Figures from the first three months of 2016 have not made great reading for the UK farm machinery trade, while the difficult markets for commodities throughout agriculture have started to bite among machinery manufacturers.
In the first three months of 2016, the number of new tractors above 50hp registered by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency totalled 2,382 units, a fall of 9.5% when set against the same period in 2015. Average tractor power, though, continued to grow, if only slightly, with a figure of 158.3hp for January-March 2016, up 1.1% on the first quarter of last year.
A breakdown of tractor power categories shows the key driver of this to be the 160hp-240hp bracket where, despite the continued lull in arable commodity markets, sales have not suffered as much as they have lower down the power scale. In the average tractor power sector of 140-160hp, meanwhile, things have fallen much more significantly. Regionally, the key dairy areas of the south-west and north-west saw some of the biggest drops overall, backing up the aforementioned power trend.
The downturn in markets across almost all key agricultural commodity sectors is starting to make its effect felt among farm equipment makers. Irish diet feeder manufacturer and nutrition advice supplier Keenan entered receivership during April. Negotiations had been underway, though, for nutrition firm Alltech to acquire the business, and this deal was completed later in the month.
The two firms say they have identified possible growth opportunities together, which may include nutritional technologies and feeding programmes focused on feed efficiency and herd health as well as advanced ration formulation.
Keenan will continue to be headquartered in Borris, County Carlow, Ireland. Together, Alltech and Keenan employ nearly 300 people in Ireland and close to 5,000 globally.
Meanwhile, in a less dramatic move, but one which indicates that manufacturers are choosing to scale back their marketing investment in the downturn, the European division of US firm Alamo says it is to merge two of its separately-run brands to create a specialist grassland and arable machinery division.
Twose of Tiverton and sister company McConnel, both of whom have been under the ownership of Alamo for a number of years, will merge on May 1. This, says Alamo, will enable the company to offer farmers a single source from McConnel/Twose dealers which covers all of the two brands’ agricultural and green maintenance machinery products. Both firms offer hedge trimmer lines, while McConnel has a presence in sub-surface cultivators and min-till drills. Twose, meanwhile, has traditionally focused on a wide line of grassland machinery, rolls and specialist implements.
Specialist sales and technical support teams will be formed as part of the new jointly-marketed lines, says Alamo, which reckons its wider product offering will generate new growth opportunities. While Twose formerly had premises in Devon, a legacy of when it was previously an independent Tiverton-based firm, in future all grassland and arable machinery for the two brands will be produced at Alamo’s factory at Salford Priors, Worcestershire, whilst the hedge and verge cutting machinery will continue to be manufactured at Ludlow, Shropshire.Google+