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Brexit 'golden touch' has sent second-hand tractor sales soaring, say auctioneers

PUBLISHED: 12:06 09 April 2019 | UPDATED: 08:54 11 April 2019

Auctioneers at Cheffins say demand for second-hand farm machinery is soaring ahead of Brexit. Picture: Russell Smith.

Auctioneers at Cheffins say demand for second-hand farm machinery is soaring ahead of Brexit. Picture: Russell Smith.

Russell Smith

Sales and stock levels have soared at East Anglia's biggest farm machinery auctions as sellers seek to cash in on overseas interest in the run-up to Brexit.

Cheffins, which claims to hold the largest monthly sale of second-hand tractors and agricultural machinery in the world, has reported sales of almost £14m in the first quarter of 2019 – with sales grossing more than £5m in March alone.

At the Cambridge Machinery Sales held at the firm’s dedicated site near Ely, gross sales hit £11m in the quarter – up by 11pc compared to the first quarter of 2018 – with stock levels up by 31pc.

Meanwhile, firms’ on-site sales teams sold 1,628 lots at four farm-based auctions during the same period, grossing more than £2.6m.

Cheffins director Bill Pepper said: “The numbers of entries for this quarter at both the Cheffins monthly sales and on site are indicative of sentiment in the second-hand machinery market as sellers look to cash-in on the high prices being achieved ahead of Brexit.

“Brexit has brought with it a golden touch for second-hand machinery values over the past three years or so as overseas buyers looked to pick up bargains and make the most of our weakening currency.

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“Uncertainty over import and export tariffs once we finally do leave the EU has encouraged sellers to cash-in quickly and disperse of machinery in early 2019 as the final Brexit deadline looms large.

“The result has been this enormous uplift in stock levels which is purely illustrative of the sentiment we have experienced since the start of this year.”

Mr Pepper said 2019 has so far seen the return of developing markets, including places like Sudan and Afghanistan, following relaxation of restrictions in their domestic markets. These buyers tend to pick up 1970s and 1980s tractors with values up to around £6,000, he said – however they buy in bulk to meet demand in their home countries.

Similarly, the Middle Eastern market appears to have picked up with a number of strong sales to the region as political tensions begin to settle, he added.

The top buyers in 2019 at the Ely saleground are led by the Irish, followed by Spanish, Polish, Bulgarian and Romanian, while the highest-grossing lot for the period is a £85,000 for a 2013 John Deere 8310R tractor.

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