By FWi staff
THREE of Britains agricultural suppliers have announced plans to join forces and become the countrys biggest farmer-controlled business after Milk Marque.
The merger of Midland Shire Farmers (MSF), Preston-based AF plc, and West Midland Farmers (WMF) will create a business with 15,000 farmer-shareholders.
The new company, which will be called Countrywide Farmers Limited (CFL), will have assets totalling £40 million with an annual turnover of about £250m.
Ian Smith, currently managing director of MSF, is expected to become CFLs first managing director after the proposal has been ratified by respective shareholders.
The new company would provide farmers with a viable alternative to the big multinational and national companies that currently supply farmers, he claimed.
Mr Smith declined to comment on speculation that jobs could be lost because of the merger, saying only that costs would be cut by reducing overheads.
“Our larger organisation will enable us to cut unit costs – in administration, production, and distribution – and employ the best skilled managers and staff,” he said.
“We very definitely do not intend any reduction in on-farm representation – we are about developing our business, not reducing it,” said Mr Smith.
CFL will have a strong farmer-shareholder involvement through formal regional representation and six farmers will sit on the board of directors.
The new company expects to achieve annual sales of 600,000 tonnes of animal feed, 200,000 tonnes of fertiliser and 20,000 tonnes of seed.
Annual sales of crop protection products are expected to total £8 million, with an estimated £30m worth of retail goods sold through 45 shops.