Buying group posts 17pc rise in turnover

Specialist buying group Anglia Farmers has reported a 17pc rise in annual turnover to more than �166m.

The Norfolk-based, farmer-owned buying group has earned a rebate of more than �1m in the year to January 31 from suppliers to benefit its 2,380 members.

Anglia Farmers has enjoyed further growth as purchases have picked up in the first quarter of the year, said the chairman, George Bell.

Based at Colton, near Norwich, it has reported an increase in share-holding members of 9.7pc in the past year. And the group's trading figures reveal that its members farm 520,000 hectares or about 1.3m acres in across mainly lowland eastern England.

As costs and returns have come under even greater pressure, AF has seen more farmers joining in order to maintain and improve margins.

Chief executive Clarke Willis said: 'While UK arable looks set to prosper better than the livestock sector, anyone in a farming business needs to be professional about purchasing.'

He added that the power of the buying group had enabled average input savings of more than �75 per ha (�30.30 acre) to be achieved. 'AF is proving that it has the leading edge when it comes to negotiating best prices for its members.'

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Purchases have picked up strong in the first three months of the current trading year, rising by some 30pc.

'The first few months of last year were very challenging for AF,' said Mr Bell. 'Some of the markets in which we buy for members were in disarray and many members deferred purchasing decisions because of the resulting uncertainties. This made it difficult to hit the demanding targets we set for ourselves.

'I was really pleased with the way in which the whole team at all levels responded to the difficult climate, working with suppliers to deliver joint business plans and approaching members proactively to help with their buying decisions.'

Anglia Farmers made an annual surplus of �149,072. The AF Group, which includes its discount arm for businesses and private individuals, AF Affinity, made a total surplus of �78,534. Total group assets increased to �1.6m from �1.51m.

Launched at the start of last year, AF Affinity had a turnover of under �200,000 and lost �70,538. It has a target turnover of �2m to break even in the current trading year.

This business includes FarmBuyer – a strategic alliance between the National Fallen Stock Scheme and AF Affinity, which sources products and services for livestock farmers throughout Britain.