Arable co-operative posts annual profit

GRAIN marketing and arable inputs co-operative Openfield has reported an annual pre-tax profit of �1.8million.

Openfield, which operates from eight offices across the UK, including an East Anglian base at Bressingham, near Diss, said the surplus – achieved on a turnover of �481m – reflected the strength of the business in what had been a challenging market season with commodity prices flat.

“The result, a second profitable year for our new business, demonstrates the growing strength and stability of Openfield,” said managing director Tim Davies.

“We have the structure and critical mass to meet members’ and end-users’ needs, and we can be pleased with our delivery over this period.”

The year to June 30, 2010, also saw Openfield sell some non-core assets, including its John Loader (Wessex) feed business.

“These divestments – part of our long term plan – are enabling us to focus on our core business,” said Openfield chairman Richard Beldam.

“This includes the investment in several strategic developments across the Openfield store network, ensuring it grows and develops, meeting food and farming needs.

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“We expect to make similar investment in the current financial year, supporting the network of regional storage businesses for which Openfield has marketing agreements.

“We are particularly pleased to be able to back some major new developments including new facilities under construction at Montrose for Angus Cereals and by Camgrain at Kettering, and we expect to maintain expansion within this sector in coming years.

“At the same time, we are equally committed to providing our members with a wide range of innovative products that maximise their returns. These increasingly include end-user contracts.

“In addition, our inputs business – focusing on fertiliser, seed and agrochemicals – continued to perform strongly,” said Mr Beldam.

He added: “Our shareholders’ funds of �21m remain one the strongest in the grain marketing sector. Furthermore, net borrowing in the last financial year was correspondingly down at �5.9m compared to �15.1m in 2009.”

Membership has also grown. “We started the last financial year with 2,227 members and have seen a further 517 farmers join the business,” said Mr Beldam.

Openfield was formed in November 2008 through a merger of the farmer-owned businesses Grainfarmers and Centaur.