Largest Grain Co-Op in the UK Back in the Black
Openfield Group, the largest grain co-op in the UK, has seen a stark turnaround, posting profits before tax of £2.4 million for the year ending June 30, 2015, following a loss of £4.2 million the year before, according to Co-operative News.
Record rains in 2012 resulting in a decline in output for the year and a reduction in sown acres in 2013 are behind the losses, but an improved harvest in 2014 combined with strategic operations maneuvers including the acquisition of Countrywide Farmers’ grain activities, the assumption of transport functions, and focus on exports have turned the co-ops fortunes around.
“Shrewd capital management and good consumer relations enabled Openfield to collect funds from customers up to three days earlier than in previous years,” Openfield chairman and farmer, Richard Beldam told Co-operative News. “This enabled the business to pay farmers on average nine days earlier. Farm businesses are under intense financial pressure and we have responded by doing what we can to ensure the timely transfer of funds”.
Owned by 2,700 farmers and launched in 2008 upon the merging of Centaur and Grainfarmers, Openfield also works with an additional 4,000 grain farmers.