ANM Group – one of Scotland’s most active and influential farming, food and finance co-operatives – has reported a trading profit of £572,000, for the year ending 31st December 2017. In addition, the group has announced it will pay a discretionary members trading bonus for a fourth consecutive year.
Pete Watson, ANM Group Board Chairman, said: “We are pleased that as a group we have recorded a trading surplus in 2017, and our balance sheet remains strong. As a result, we are once again delighted to allocate a discretionary trading bonus in appreciation of the ongoing commitment from our loyal members.”
Overall, the group had a positive year and seen an improvement in profitability – against a backdrop of increased fixed costs, including rates, insurance, investment in staff training and health and safety – returning a profit of £572,000 compared to £470,000 in 2016. At the end of December, the group reached a record level of £6 million share capital, underlining shareholders’ confidence in the future direction of ANM.
The balance sheet remains strong – with the group reporting a steady increase whilst highlighting that this does not reflect the increase in the value of land owned by the co-operative – with net assets excluding the pension scheme deficit amounting to almost £27.5 million at the end of 2017. The group looks to the future positively backed by its financial strength.
As one of Scotland’s leading co-operative societies, the group continued to work hard to promote its diverse range of membership benefits and services supporting the sector through the uncertainties of 2017. The total value of these members’ benefits amounted to £467,000 in the year and included dividends of £147,000; a £36,000 trading bonus; stocking agreement interest savings of £132,000; commission cap savings of £86,000; and members loan scheme’s enhanced interest rates over market rates of £66,000. The group’s stock-on agreement and new entrants scheme supported 239 livestock farmers in the year with £7 million worth of cattle and sheep financed by the group.
Over the year, the group continued to invest considerable time and effort in its property portfolio and further strengthen its asset base following the approval of planning permission for the Thainstone Business Park expansion. This strong financial position allows the co-operative to further deliver the best possible service to its members.
Grant Rogerson, Chief Executive of ANM Group, said: “We are pleased with the success achieved in 2017 which is a testament to the hard work of the executive team, board members and all our staff at ANM. As a co-operative, we take pride in the strength, diversity and high levels of service provided by our dedicated teams of professionals. These factors positively impact the agricultural industry and deliver value to our members, customers and shareholders. Our asset base continues to increase in value, and good progress has been achieved in all areas of the business. We are investing in the group and our people to ensure the co-operative continues to move forward, and the industry is fit for the future.”
All divisions of the group contributed towards the final result for the year, highlighting the importance of the diversity of the co-operative. The group’s core businesses – Aberdeen & Northern Marts and Thainstone Specialist Auctions – performed well as a result of the combination of increased throughput at the machinery, specialist and vehicle sales, and also the hard work and efforts of the livestock division which had an increase in the throughput of sheep and did well to maintain cattle numbers.
The Aberdeen & Northern (Estates) Ltd reported a good result for the year. The team sold over 40 rural properties extending to just under 4,000 acres, which is an increase on the previous year and evidence of the rise in optimism from both buyers and sellers in the sector. Thainstone Events, including Porterhouse Steakhouse & Coffee Bar, recorded an increase in both profitability and number of customers dining at Porterhouse, hosting a successful series of events from country music festivals to Christmas party nights. This resulted in a profit for the division.
The group remains committed to supporting the farming sector with initiatives such as the Farm Profit Programme: Making Livestock Pay, in partnership with the Farmers Journal and the Scottish Government. Now in its second year, the programme continues to work with the six focus farms in the group’s trading area and looks to improve technical performance, efficiency and profitability.