From - South West Farmer:
"Respected Camel Valley dairy and beef farmer Ashley Masters has been appointed as a non-executive director of Cornwall Farmers.
Mr Masters' appointment was announced at Cornwall Farmers' 93rd annual general meeting, at Kingsley Village.
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.”
Mr Masters, who has also been chairman of livestock marketing co-operative CQLP for five years, said: “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 will be at this year's Royal Cornwall Show, and I will be pleased to meet our members there and hear what they have to say. It's important we reconnect with them.”
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 £1.7m in the year ending September 2012.
Chief executive officer Simon Birch shared what he termed “cautious optimism” for the society's future. 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.
Mr 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.
“The Penzance store, which was our first to rebrand as Patch & Acre, is trading well and is around 30% up on the rest of the stores in the group, which is extremely encouraging.”
The rebranded Launceston store is due to open this weekend (Saturday, April 12), with a pre-launch event for Cornwall Farmers members and customers taking place tonight (Tuesday, April 8). This will be followed by others with plans already afoot for Tavistock, Helston, Kinsgsbridge, and Wadebridge.
“Patch & Acre is going to transform our business, but we are still very much here for our members and the farmers. I'd like to thank our members for their patience and loyalty and I would like to thank our staff for their dedication, loyalty and hard work,” said Mr Birch.
Jules Hydleman said: ”The last three years have been nothing short of tumultuous while the society has adapted to rapidly changing market conditions in an economic environment that has been challenging and uncertain.
“But we have weathered that storm and following a series of difficult choices have emerged more determined than ever to focus on those areas of the business that have a long-term, sustainable future.
“We are investing in our stores, systems and people, and our unrelenting focus is on delivering choice, quality and service for all our customers.”
Cornwall Farmers employs around 200 staff and has the biggest network of country stores in Cornwall and Devon with outlets in Penzance, Helston, Truro, Wadebridge, Liskeard, Otterham, Launceston, Tavistock, Hatherleigh, Bideford, Kingsbridge and Dartington.
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