East Anglian farm group boosts sales by 9pc

PUBLISHED: 11:10 24 November 2012

East Anglian-based farm input and crop marketing co-operative AtlasFram Group increased annual turnover by more than 9pc last year.

Despite challenges from weather and volatile markets in the year to June 30, the Framlingham-based group increased turnover by £17m to £169m.

The group, which buys on behalf of 1,060 members, farming more than 275,000 hectares or 680,000 acres, boosted turnover by 9.2pc. It also increased its financial reserves rose to more than £2.5m – the highest in the group’s history. It also reported a significant increase in businesses applying for membership.

Sales of crop protection product increased 17pc to £28.9m, electricity by 14pc to £6.7m and seed by 11pc to £5.5m. The livestock department also experienced strong growth, with turnover increasing by 18pc and feed volume by 14pc to a record 83,000 tonnes, with sales of animal health products rising by 10pc.

The group’s building materials department saw turnover increase to £4.34m, up 6.2pc, while sales of machinery increased by 3.2pc to £9.6m as the fleet partnerships went from strength to strength.

The grain marketing department have also thrived since the group formed a strategic partnership with ADM Direct. At a time of huge seasonal price volatility, AtlasFram’s exclusive grain pools gave some protection to members and also achieved higher returns.

The committed tonnage secured for the current growing season more than doubled to its highest level for 10 years with a predicted 41pc increase on the previous year.

Framtrade, which is the group’s wholly-owned non-member trading business, increased sales of domestic fuel to almost 1,500 customers.

At the group’s annual meeting, Serena Greenwell, chairman, said: “This has been a very successful year for the AtlasFram Group, reflecting the fact that we are a true co-operative which operates entirely in the best interests of our farmer/landowner members and in a transparent manner.”

The grain marketing arm achieved industry-leading performances. “The April-June 2012 pools for feed and milling wheat, for example, achieved £166.05 per tonne and £182.05 per tonne respectively, £12.05 per tonne more than competitor pools, while oilseed rape achieved £375.38 per tonne plus individual quality bonuses, representing an additional £15.38 per tonne.”

Richard Anscombe, chief executive officer, said: “During the last 12 months, 53 farming businesses from East Anglia, the South East, South West, Midlands and North West became members of AtlasFram.

“We remain committed to being the UK’s foremost farmer-owned purchasing and marketing co-operative, delivering the best service and information supported by the best value and advice to our members. Our focus is on adding maximum value to their businesses and we continue to develop the AtlasFram Group to benefit them.

“We believe that during what is undoubtedly an increasingly challenging business environment, membership of the Atlas Fram Group will be increasingly attractive to forward-thinking farmers.”

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