Which is biggest? Latest machinery dealer rankings by turnover

Neighbouring dealer acquisitions and bigger sales territories propelled two farm machinery dealerships into the top 15 and moved others up the ranks during the 2021 trading year.

Hunt Forest Group made the biggest gains by purchasing fellow John Deere dealer C Smart Agricultural Services and its three branches in Dorset and Somerset.

See also: Sweeping changes shake up the farm kit dealer landscape

The move helped boost turnover by 78% to £102.7m, with the Smarts business acquired in February 2021 contributing £32.7m, while the Hunt Forest entity itself enjoyed a 21.4% or £12.3m sales lift by the end of January 2022.

Now employing more than 170 people, Hunt Forest Group was formed in 2019 by the merger of R Hunt and New Forest Farm Machinery.

It currently trades through eight locations across Hampshire, where the company’s headquarters branch is at Chilbolton, near Stocksbridge, and outlets on the Isle of Wight and in Dorset and Wiltshire.

A new “super depot” being built at Green Ore, near Wells, Somerset, is on schedule for a summer 2023 opening to further boost growth in the area.

Russells

New Holland dealer Russells also entered the top 15 with a 41% turnover increase to £91.7m, thanks in part to the late-2020 purchase of the Platts Harris group’s agricultural dealerships covering Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and South Yorkshire.

That took the company’s number of employees to about 180 and branches to 12, stretching from Northallerton and Leyburn in North Yorkshire to Rothwell near Kettering, Northants.

Russells first pursued southern expansion by acquiring Hallmark Tractors and its Derbyshire and Northants territory in early 2016 and, in June 2022, RES, another New Holland dealer, was brought into the group, operating across its Leicestershire territory from Harby near Melton Mowbray.

Farm machinery at Russells Agricultural branch at Cubley, Derbyshire

Russells Agricultural branch at Cubley, Derbyshire © Russells

Chandlers Farm Equipment

Among the top 15 climbers, Chandlers Farm Equipment moved up the ranking by completing its acquisition of Lister Wilder’s Agco business and several depots in January 2021.

This took the group’s Fendt, Massey Ferguson and Valtra franchises across the South Midlands, with turnover up 71% from £75m in 2020 to £129m.

Further growth of a potential £33m-£34m will come from Chandlers’ purchase in February this year of Ross Farm Machinery, a three-branch Massey Ferguson and JCB dealer, the extension of RFM’s JCB territory into the Cotswolds, and the acquisition in May of another Massey Ferguson dealer – Keith Davies Agricultural, in Shropshire.

Farol

Farol benefited from trading across a larger John Deere territory extended into part of Sharmans Agricultural’s former area in the East Midlands during 2020, recording a 36% turnover gain to more than £145m.

Further growth will come from Farol’s late 2022 move into Staffordshire and Derbyshire following Rea Valley Tractors’ decision to leave the Deere network.

TH White Group achieved 32% turnover growth in 2021, with the mid-year acquisition of Murley Agricultural contributing £8m of the group’s £151.2m total, together with a larger New Holland territory, two depots in Warwickshire, and the Doosan (now Develon) construction machinery franchise.

Based in Devizes, Wiltshire, the group employs more than 580 staff covering agricultural machinery and building installations, construction equipment and the UK distribution of Palfinger cranes, and a DeLaval dairy equipment and supplies operation that now stretches from south-east Wales to Norfolk.

Tuckwells also saw a positive increase in 2021 turnover, up 32% to almost £94m, mainly as a result of the February acquisition of fellow Deere dealer Burden Bros Agri and its three depots in south-east England.

That took the total branches to 10 covering an area from Suffolk to East Sussex, and the number of people employed to 249.

Heading the top 15 pack, Scot JCB, which encompasses the Scot Agri farm machinery dealerships handling JCB and Massey Ferguson, generated £176.6m turnover, 46% up on the year.

That took the business past the £174.8m combined turnover of Claas UK’s wholly owned retail outlets Claas Eastern, Manns and Claas Western.

Thurlow Nunn Standen’s Fakenham branch in Norfolk

Thurlow Nunn Standen’s Fakenham branch in Norfolk © Thurlow Nunn Standen

Britain’s biggest farm machinery dealers

Rank Dealer Principle franchises 2021 Turnover 2021*
1 Scot JCB JCB, Massey Ferguson £176.6m
2 Claas UK* Claas £174.8m
3 TH White Group New Holland £151.2m
4 Farol John Deere £145.3m
5 Ernest Doe & Sons New Holland, Case IH £143.7m
6 Ripon Farm Services* John Deere £132.5m
7 Chandlers* Fendt, Massey Ferguson, Valtra £129m
8 Lloyd New Holland £115.8m
9 Ben Burgess* John Deere £112.9m
10 Hunt Forest Group John Deere £102.7m
11 P Tuckwell John Deere £93.9m
12 Russells New Holland £91.7m
13 Rea Valley Tractors* John Deere, JCB £87.3m
14 Cornthwaite John Deere £83.3m
15 Thurlow Nunn Standen Fendt, Massey Ferguson, Valtra £70.5m
Note: Turnover period covers September to March year-ends. *Claas UK wholly owned retail dealerships comprise Claas Eastern £63.8m, Claas Manns £71.9m and Claas Western £39.1m. Ripon Farm Machinery has since acquired groundcare equipment dealer FG Adamson (January 2023). Chandlers has since acquired Massey Ferguson dealers Keith Davies Agricultural (May 2023) and Ross Farm Machinery (February 2023), which added JCB in the West Midlands and Cotswolds area. Ben Burgess has since acquired John W Doubleday (November 2022). Rea Valley Tractors has since switched from John Deere to New Holland (November 2022).

Exceptions to the rule

For the most part, dealerships are ranked according to the turnover of individual companies or groups, including those selling construction machinery, groundcare kit and crop-drying or dairy equipment installations.

Exceptions are those generating the majority of their turnover from non-agricultural products such as cars, pickups and the like.

The Thurlow Nunn group, for example, generated £227m turnover in 2021, but two-thirds came from its motor vehicle dealerships, so it is ranked according to the Thurlow Nunn Standen farm and grounds machinery turnover of £70.5m.

Likewise, two-thirds of Haynes Brothers £86.8m turnover came from car and truck sales, compared with about £29m from the agriculture machinery division.

The agricultural supplies section of Carr’s Billington accumulated more than £297m turnover from compound animal feeds, fuel distribution and retail country stores, but is ranked on the £49m contributed by sales of Massey Ferguson tractors and other machinery.

Snapping at the heels of the top 15

Peacock & Binnington

A succession of dealer acquisitions has built Peacock & Binnington’s network of six branches and 150 employees covering an all-brands Agco territory from North Yorkshire to Lincolnshire, managed from the Brigg headquarters.

Buying Kirby Misperton-based Massey Ferguson dealer Franks Curtis in October 2021 built on the September 2018 acquisition of another MF dealer, Northfield Agricultural Services, at Halsham, East Yorkshire.

Lister Wilder

The strategic decision to drop Agco and go all in with Kubota saw 2021 turnover of £64.5m versus £119.4m the year before – but with virtually unchanged operating profit thanks to increased margins as the business sold more Kubota units than any dealer in Europe.

Lister Wilder, with a workforce of more than 150, now handles the Japanese manufacturer’s engines, agricultural tractors and implements, groundcare and light construction equipment from Ashford in Kent across to Somerset since the new Keynsham, Bristol, depot opened.

Farm machinery at Lister Wilder’s Bibury branch near Cirencester, Gloucestershire

Lister Wilder’s Bibury branch near Cirencester, Gloucestershire © Kubota

HRN Tractors/Agritrac Exports

Following a split with John Deere in 2020, HRN Tractors took on Kubota as Scotland’s only full-line dealer supplying agriculture, groundcare and construction products across its seven depots, adding an eighth site in Angus later in the year.

Kubota agricultural tractors from 70hp-170hp are supplied from the M8 corridor north to Shetland, Kubota and Kverneland implements from the M8 corridor north to Caithness, Kubota groundcare products and RTVs from Perth to Shetland, and Kubota construction machinery throughout Scotland.

After 40 years of trading, HRN achieved a record-breaking turnover of £62.8m in 2021.

Kubota farm equipment at HRN Tractors’ Stirling site

Kubota farm equipment at HRN Tractors’ Stirling site © HRN-Tractors

Rickerby

Now operating with more than 130 staff out of nine branches – including a new facility opened in 2022 at Burscough, Lancs – Rickerby has grown from its Carlisle base mainly through Claas territory gains.

The company now covers ground from Lancashire northwards through Cumbria into Dumfries & Galloway, and from County Durham through Northumberland and the Scottish Borders into East Lothian.

Tallis Amos

The Tallis Amos Group has 120 employees operating from four branches serving south-west Wales, Hereford, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire, with a further branch planned for Carmarthenshire and a new location at Allscott, near Telford, supporting expansion into Shropshire this year.

The group was formed from the 2012 merger of John Deere dealers Alexander & Duncan and Chris Tallis Farm Machinery, and has ambitions to grow its 2021 turnover of £56.7m to £120m over the next four years.

Farm machinery at the Tallis Amos depot at Allscott, Shropshire

Newest facility – the Tallis Amos depot at Allscott, Shropshire © Tallis Amos

Olivers

Two related businesses employing more than 180 staff form this south of England group, with Oliver Agriculture (£34.6m turnover in 2021) trading across five branches from Bedfordshire south to the Isle of Wight.

Growth in recent years has come with the acquisition of Claas Southern’s Reading branch in 2015 and, in 2018, the Petworth operation covering Sussex and Claas Western’s Winchester branch in Hampshire.

Oliver Landpower (£20.7m) carries JCB Agriculture at three depots in Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire, and now also from Colchester after being allocated JCB’s Essex territory, and Lower Quinton near Stratford in Warwickshire following the 2022 purchase of neighbouring JCB dealer LQG Agri.

Farm machinery at  Oliver Landpower's Stratford branch

Oliver Landpower expanded westwards with the acquisition of LQG Agri – now its Stratford branch © Oliver Landpower

James Gordon

From its headquarters in Castle Douglas, Gordons operates with more than 100 employees selling Claas equipment, complemented by farm machinery from a number of other manufacturers, plus Develon (formerly Doosan) construction machinery since 2017.

The other four locations covering south-west Scotland are at Kilmarnock and Strathaven, south of Glasgow, Dumfries and Whauphill, with construction machinery sales handled out of Rickerby’s Carlisle branch.

Pecks

With New Holland, Case IH and JCB its primary franchises, plus a professional groundscare division, country store and tyre fitting operation G&J Peck celebrated its 175-year anniversary in 2021.

In addition to the new headquarters opened in 2016 at Ely in Cambridgeshire, the company’s 140 or so employees work out of five branches in Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, with a sixth site planned for Framlingham to cater for the JCB territory newly extended into Suffolk.

The Pecks Agritrac division’s premises at Ely in Cambridgeshire

The Pecks Agritrac division’s premises at Ely in Cambridgeshire © Pecks

B&B Tractors

From its Massey Ferguson sales branch established in 2007, B&B Tractors gained several territory allocations over subsequent years, such that it now comprises four depots covering Nottinghamshire, South Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Leicestershire.

With the addition of Agco’s Fendt and Valtra products, turnover from sales of agricultural equipment reached more than £32m in 2021.

This represents 65% of Bowring Group’s £50m total, the balance coming from agricultural and other haulage services (£14.2m), sales of farm and equestrian feed products, and steel fabrication projects (£3.3m).

Carr’s Billington

Now under the ownership of the Billington Group once more, Carr’s Billington Agriculture Sales generated £49m of its £297m total 2021 turnover from tractor and agricultural machinery sales and, on that basis, is reckoned to be the UK’s largest supplier of Massey Ferguson tractors.

The business became an exclusive MF dealer at that time, gaining territory in southern Scotland and adding machinery sales to its Skipton Auction Mart depot for a total of 11 sales centres stretching from Dumfries and Galloway across to Northumberland and south through Cumbria and Durham to North Yorkshire.

Sharmans Agricultural

Since it was started in 1981 with the purchase of a Ford Tractors dealership in Leicestershire, Sharmans has grown with dealer acquisitions and territory gains to become a business with seven branches and more than 100 employees in 2021.

Losing John Deere towards the end of 2020 resulted in a switch to Case IH and a territory extension into Cambridgeshire, along with a larger JCB area.

More growth will come this year with the purchase of Louth Tractors to add central, east and north-east Lincolnshire to Sharman’s Case IH territory.

Hamilton Ross Group

Originally encompassing the dealerships Hamilton Brothers, Daniel Ross Engineers and Reekie (acquired in 2016), last year Reekie’s Perth branch was absorbed into Hamilton Brothers, while the Cupar depot merged with Daniel Ross to form R&R Machinery for streamlined administration across the group’s six branches.

With more than 140 employees, the outlets cover south-central Scotland, from Cambeltown on the west coast to Cupar in the east, handling Agco’s Fendt, Massey Ferguson and Valtra products alongside JCB and other equipment franchises, including Wacker Neuson light construction machinery.

John W Doubleday

From humble beginnings trading agricultural machinery and making harrows, the Doubleday business took off after becoming one of John Deere’s early dealers in Britain, subsequently acquiring Bourne Tractors in Lincolnshire and Evergreen Tractors in Norfolk, and opening state-of-the-art premises at Swineshead, Lincolnshire in 2014.

However, the four-branch agricultural and groundscare dealership was sold towards the end of 2022 to Ben Burgess, in a deal that included its used tractor and equipment exports operation that generated £4.5m in 2021.

Thomas Sherriff & Co

With an agricultural engineering heritage stretching back to the early 1800s, Thomas Sherriff & Co is now a seven-branch dealer covering the Lothian and Borders region and south to Durham, having acquired WM Dodds at Jedburgh and the Deere territory served by Everitt & Marshall in 2017.

At the same time, a £2m investment in new headquarters at Haddington, East Lothian, now supports the 124 people employed by the company, which handles John Deere farm and turf kit, and other brands of machinery.

Malpas Tractors

Transformed from a 1960s agricultural contracting and repairs business, Malpas Tractors is now a six-branch New Holland dealership that has grown through several territory allocations.

These resulted in the Holmes Chapel, Cheshire depot opening in 2002, another in Denbigh, north Wales in 2005, and two in Lancashire (Lathom and Condor Green) in 2015 and 2018, with Malpas Tractors and the associated business, Malpas Tractor Services, employing 85 people.

Britain’s biggest farm machinery dealers

 
Rank Dealer Principal franchises 2021 Turnover 2021*
16 Peacock & Binnington Fendt, Massey Ferguson, Valtra, JCB £65.6
17 Lister Wilder Kubota £64.5
18 HRN Tractors + Agritrac Exports Kubota £62.8
19 Rickerby Claas £62.1
20 Tallis Amos Group John Deere £56.7
21 Oliver Group * Claas, JCB £55.3
22 James Gordon Claas £51.1
23 G&J Peck New Holland, JCB £50.9
24 B&B Tractors Fendt, Massey Ferguson, Valtra £49.9
25 Carr’s Billington * Massey Ferguson £49.2
26 Sharmans Agricultural * Case IH, JCB £47.8
27 Hamilton Ross Group Fendt, Massey Ferguson, Valtra, JCB £46.0
28 John W Doubleday * John Deere £45.3
29 Thomas Sherriff & Co John Deere £44.8
30 Malpas Tractors New Holland £42.9
Note: Turnover period covers September to March year ends. *Oliver group company Oliver Landpower has since acquired LQG Agri (October 2022). Carr’s Billington turnover agricultural machinery sales only. Sharmans has since acquired Louth Tractors (February 2023). John W Doubleday has since been acquired by Ben Burgess (November 2022).

Other dealers with more than £30m turnover

Britain’s biggest farm machinery dealers

Rank Dealer Principle franchises 2021 Turnover 2021*
31 Sellars Agriculture Claas £42.1
32 Netherton Tractors John Deere £37.6
33 Masons Kings John Deere £37.4
34 RW Crawford* Fendt, Massey Ferguson, Valtra £35.9
35 Morris Corfield Claas £35.5
36 Agricar New Holland £34.8
37 Ross Farm Machinery* Massey Ferguson, JCB £34.2
38 RVW Pugh Fendt, Massey Ferguson £33.4
39 Smallridge Brothers John Deere £32.4
40 Farmstar Case IH £31.9
41 JG Paxton & Sons* Case IH, JCB £31.8
42 Riverlea Claas £31.3
43 Redlynch* Fendt, Valtra, JCB £31.1
44 JE Lawrence & Son New Holland, JCB £31.1
45 Compass Tractors* Fendt, JCB £30.9
Note: Turnover period covers September to March year ends. *RW Crawford has since acquired Agwood (May 2022). Ross Farm Machinery has since been acquired by Chandlers (February 2023). Paxtons has since acquired J Wood & Sons (June 2022). Redlynch and Compass operate a joint venture company – Reco JCB – for the JCB franchise.

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