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WYNNSTAY GROUP PLC


OUT& ABOUT by Andrew Mounsey


In any mature market, where there is no growth in demand, only the leanest and fittest suppliers will survive and prosper; those less able to compete will fall by the wayside or be swallowed up by their counterparts. Nowhere is this seen more clearly than in the feed industry where, after decades of relatively stable levels of overall output, the number of players has declined as those determined and able to stay in the market have acquired and assimilated their erstwhile competitors and achieved greater economies of scale. Wynnstay Group plc is one supplier which has survived and prospered through a mix of organic growth, acquisition and diversification into new areas closely related to its core business and origins. In recent years, the rate of growth has been rapid. Wynnstay began as a cooperative formed by tenant farmers of


the Wynnstay Estate in 1918. The earliest available figures show that, in 1921, it had sales of £32,000, a balance sheet value of £5,500 and £2,500 worth of share capital. By 1980, annual sales had grown to £6 million; last year, the Group made almost that much in pretax profits on turnover approaching a quarter of a billion pounds, had a balance sheet value of nearly £50 million and share capital in excess of £4.1 million – rapid growth indeed. The company converted from a cooperative in 1992, in order to secure the capital base of the business, and was floated on the AIM in London in 2004. Today, the Group employs in excess of 700 staff all of whom are shareholders, accounting for about 15% of the total share capital; other major shareholders include farmers and, increasingly since flotation, major City investors. So what has driven this rapid rate of expansion? Broadly speaking, the Group can be divided into agricultural and


retail activities. On the agricultural side, the strategy has been to pursue a policy of acquisition and to act as a consolidator.


PAGE 24 MARCH 2011 FEED COMPOUNDER In arable, this has included the acquisition of David Nunn Ltd


of Shrewsbury around the millennium, through to the purchase last year of Yorkshire-based Woodheads Seeds Ltd, which catapulted the Group into the top three cereal seed processors and sellers in the UK. The arable division covers all aspects of crop production, from seed, fertiliser, crop protection and grain marketing. Another part of the


Group is the Glasson business, which operates from its own dock near Lancaster (pictured right) as a raw materials trader, supplying feed ingredients both within the Group and to other compounders throughout the North West and pet food manufacturers; it is also a fertiliser blender and packager of added value products supplied to the specialist feed retailer market. Finally, the feed division includes the mill at Llansantffraid, the mill


at Carmarthen (now fully owned by Wynnstay) and a blending plant at Rhosfawr. 2010 also saw the purchase of the remaining 50 per cent of Youngs Animal Feeds, an equine feeds and pet products distributor, known amongst other things for the production of Molichop. On the retail side, there are now 28 Country Stores operating


throughout Mid and North Wales and the West Midlands, some turning over in excess of £3 million. The outlets supply a range of specialist products and a good deal of investment has gone into building new stores and refurbishing existing ones to make them attractive to farmers, smallholders and pet owners. The stores remain true to the


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