A leading supplier of products, services and advice to farmers has announced the disposal of its livestock feed and forage, arable products and crop marketing businesses for a total of £18.5m.

An AMTRA-qualified SQP working in Countrywide.

Countrywide Farmers – which has 40,000 account customers and often reports a turnover in excess of £200m – took the “difficult” decision, with the company deciding to focus on its country store network and multichannel platform, rather than its direct to farm business.

John Hardman, Countrywide Farmers chief executive, said the decision comes “at the end of a significant strategic review of how best we can deliver sustainable improvement in shareholder value”.

“Our farm trading businesses have built a strong relationship over the years and this is reflected in the acquiring companies who are all market leaders in their own right,” he said. “They have been carefully selected by the Countrywide board as being, we believe, the best fit for our customers and staff alike.”

The livestock feed and forage business, which comprises compound and alternative feeds and fertiliser and forage seeds, is being sold to feed solutions company ForFarmers. The arable business, which sells crop protection and cereal seed products, is being sold to crop specialist Hutchinsons, while terms have been agreed for the sale of the crop marketing business to Openfield, the UK’s largest farmer-owned grain cooperative.

According to Countrywide, its teams within these businesses will transfer to the respective purchaser, for long term stability and wider career opportunities. Overall, the sale of these businesses will affect around 80 staff.

Countrywide said the sales will allow the company to “focus and invest” in its retail network of 53 stores across England and Wales, as well as its energy business, which supplies bulk LPG and bottled gas to the rural community. There will also be a focus on its turf and amenity business, which is developing a “strong market position”, it said. According to the company’s directors, Countrywide holds a competitive advantage in these areas, and these three businesses have the potential to deliver long term growth.

Mr Hardman insists the company remains committed to UK farming through 7,000 agriculture products available in store, catalogue and online, “all reinforced by a dedicated field sales team“.

“Our new focus and ability to invest will ensure we are well positioned to execute our strategy and to grow the business into a leading multichannel supplier to the UK’s rural community,” he said.

“I would like to thank all the staff who have worked within the businesses that we are selling. We are very grateful for their contribution and I sincerely hope they will thrive following this new step for those businesses.”

For more information, visit Countrywide’s website.

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