AGM hears of ‘cautious optimism’


Cornwall Farmers’ CEO, Simon Birch, spoke of his “cautious optimism” for the society’s future, at its AGM held at Kingsley Village this week.

Cornwall Farmers CEO, Simon Birch
Cornwall Farmers CEO, Simon Birch

The meeting heard that Cornwall Farmers reported a profit after tax of £656,583 for the year ended September 2013, which is ahead of the turnaround plan that was announced at last year’s annual meeting. This is up from a loss of £1.7 million in the year ending September 2012.

Key planks in the strategy have been the disposal of the arable side of the business, and significant investment with the gradual rebranding of stores under the Patch & Acre name. Cornwall Farmers has also been investing in its team under the ‘You Are the Difference’ training programme for all staff.

Birch said: “Our passion is to serve our farming members and to drive shareholder value. We have delivered what we said we would in terms of our turnaround plan to date and I am looking forward with cautious optimism.”

Meanwhile, Camel Valley dairy and beef farmer, Ashley Masters, was named as a non-executive director at the meeting.

Cornwall Farmers’ chairman, Jules Hydleman, said: “I am particularly pleased that Ashley has agreed to become a non-executive director as he is steeped in the Cornish farming tradition and so will bring a very welcome farmer perspective to the board.”

Masters, who has also been chairman of livestock marketing co-operative CQLP for five years, added: “I feel it’s an honour to join the board. Cornwall Farmers is rich in history, but it also has a good future.

“We have more than 4,000 members and we want them to feel it’s their business. We want to hear their views and thoughts, and work with them.”

Cornwall Farmers employs around 200 staff and has the biggest network of country stores in Cornwall and Devon.