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Agrovista UK, a distributor of crop protection and amenity products, has reported an increased profit on trading activities in 2005. Profit after interest and before tax is £1.203 million ($2.107 million) compared to £1.015 million in 2004 on an almost identical turnover of £70 million. Agrovista (www.agrovista.co.uk), part of the international Marubeni Corporation, was formed in 2001 following the merger of Profarma Ltd and the Crop Care Group of companies, to provide specialist agronomy and crop protection products to British agriculture. Managing director, James Robertson said: "We have steadily built our business since and grown our bottom line for the past three years.  This has been through a combination of gaining new customers, taking on new staff, continuing our planned efficiency drive and developing opportunities through innovation.”

Three years of investment

In 2005 the company embarked on a three year plan of investment in IT, logistics and staff skills. According to Agrovista all divisions within the business have been performing well.  Agriculture has maintained its sales value despite a decline in market value of more than 10% compared to 2004. The company’s nation-wide team of qualified agronomists works closely with its farmer customers using the results from the Arable Technology trials programme conducted on sites all over the UK.  Agrovista claims that Arable Technology is now one of Europe’s largest arable crop research and development trial programmes. It is run in conjunction with the company’s manufacturing partners and provides up to date information from unbiased independent field results.

Agrovista’s strategy for horticulture of integrating with grower customers in the value chain is working well and new customers are now accepting the new concept. The company’s Amenity division operates a comprehensive advice service through its specialist company, Sherriff Amenity Services. Sherriff Amenity was formed in 1994, as a supplier of products for the upkeep and maintenance of sports and amenity turf and landscape. Situated on the Firmin Coates site in Newmarket, Suffolk Agrovista says that its amenity business has gone from strength to strength by providing the highest  levels of service and products in the sector. Sherriff Amenity operates two high capacity warehouses to store its products and has expanded its geographic coverage to an extent that it is now on target to become a national business. 

Professional farming services

In January 2003, Agrovista launched a comprehensive range of professional farming services under the name Agrogate. The services on offer are joint initiatives with Farmcare’s Farm Business Advisory Group and Increment Ltd. Agrogate provides farmers and growers in the UK with independent business advice on contract farming agreements, farm business tenancies, European funding and environmental initiatives, farm benchmarking and many other farm management issues. During the past year a new strategy has been implemented on fertiliser, seed and combinable buy-backs capitalising not only on the national strength of the business but also the regional opportunities that have been developed with business partners. 

Turning to 2006 Mr Robertson commented: "It is going to be a tough year. The two biggest issues the company faces are the deteriorating cash flow of customers and the escalating cost increases, particularly energy, fuel, regulation and legislation.”  Mr Robertson says he believes a strong financial position is essential for survival in a flat market like agriculture.  The next eighteen months he predicts will continue to be tough, but beyond that he believes that commodity prices, particularly cereals and oilseed rape, should start to rise as alternative uses for these crops start to become a reality.

Disposal of waste containers

Agrovista have recently been running a series of pesticide container management roadshows in support of the UK’s Voluntary Initiative attended by over 1200 farmers and sprayer operators. Farmers are much more aware of the impact the regulations will have on their businesses, and are now in a strong position to make decisions on how to tackle the issues in a way that best suits their needs, say Agrovista. When the regulations come into force, there will be no "do nothing" option. Everyone who produces waste will be required to dispose of it in a legal and appropriate manner. There is still some confusion as to what can be burned in a drum incinerator. Growers need to be

31 March 2006                           © Market Scope Europe Ltd                          www.crop-protection-monthly.co.uk

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