CCF has, over the last decade or so, continued to change, and we hope that change has been very much for the better. In previous years, somehow, somewhere, the Society had lost its main role which was, and always should be, to make sure there is a viable alternative for our farmers and shareholders.
So, the main goals CCF set some ten years ago were to improve the strength of the balance sheet, to make sure shareholders had good value and that the Society had good foundations for the future. Our other main aim was to make the business more relevant to our farmer shareholders.
Today, an obvious question is ‘How have we done so far? – We know we still have some way to go! Shareholder funds stand at around £7,000,000 and as many of the Society’s property assets are written off or well written down, these funds are understated.
We have grown the business to around £50,000,000, primarily by trading to our customers and shareholders, whereas many of our competitors have grown mainly by acquisition! One exception being the purchase of Rhayader, which has added around £1,000,000 turnover.
The Society last year carried out almost one million transactions. We have established a strong Own Brand for compound and blended feeds, declaring percentages of ingredients either on the label or at time of purchase, and are proud that we are, as far as we know, the only business in Wales to do so. Own branding also includes grass seed, minerals silage additives and crop preservatives.
We have also established our own feed blending plant at Glanrhyd near Cardigan, and will make another investment there this summer to continue to improve our capabilities. The blending plant also allows us to offer an outlet for many of our members’ grain.
We have also upgraded many of our branches, with more to follow, and bought new premises at Knighton and Rhayader.
However, our biggest investment by far has been with people: we now employ around 150 and have over 14 graduates on our books, making sure that we are able, when required, to give proper professional and impartial help and advice to our members.
For the future, we hope to be here to make sure farmers have an influence in the supply market, but we need to, as always, make sure we are relevant to our farmers and aware of their needs.