Huge new supplier may soon be reality

25 June 1999

Huge new supplier may soon be reality

PRODUCERS have given strong support to plans to create the countrys biggest farmer-owned supply business.

In a recent vote based on shares, both Midland Shires Farmers and West Midland Farmers recorded 96% in favour of the proposal to merge. A third and a quarter of members voted respectively. And at emergency general meetings at Worcester and Melksham at the end of last week, the merger received unanimous support.

Provided legal clearance is given on Jul 12, Countrywide Farmers, which would boast more than 10,000 members, will become a reality, says MSF company secretary Brian Lancaster. The new outfit would have a turnover approaching £200m, selling 300,000t of animal feed, 150,000t of fertiliser, £8m of crop protection products and 20,000t of seed. In addition, about £30m of goods would be sold through 40 retail stores.

"Countrywide Farmers will be in a better position than either business alone to maximise members profits," says Mr Lancaster.

The move will promote business development, enable cost savings through better administration, production and distribution, improve purchasing power and provide strategic opportunities for further mergers, he adds.

MSF remains firmly committed to Wales, despite news that the Brecon branch is to close, says Mr Lancaster. "We had to get out of the existing depot as it was on a short-term lease. Following a new supply agreement with Hay and Brecon Farmers we no longer need to build a new depot. Farmers will continue to get the same service. The merger will not directly result in any further closures in Wales."

AF, which took part in earlier talks but pulled out due to problems meeting the legal deadline, will talk again when the new company has settled down, says managing director Steven Clarke. &#42

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