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Australian co-operative wants Farmlands’ recipe

Media Statement October 24, 2002

Australian co-operative wants Farmlands’ recipe for success

A Victorian retail and herd improvement co-operative servicing a rural population of more than 100,000 is modeling itself on the success of New Zealand rural retailer Farmlands Trading Society.

Warrnambool Co-operative chairman Shirley Harlock said today after seeking a like-type organization, Farmlands was the only co-operative the company had found which had a comparable business offering similar synergies.

Farmlands’ chief executive John Newland, who returned from his second visit to Warnambool this week, said it was great to see a New Zealand farmer-owned company being recognised for its achievements, especially by Australian farmers.

Mrs Harlock said Warrnambool wanted to find a similar business to measure itself against so it could share in a recipe for success.

“We are already introducing initiatives based on what Farmlands’ has achieved in New Zealand, Mrs Harlock said.

“For example, after learning about Farmlands’ charge card, which had $34-million in sales last year, we launched our own card.

“We have talked about how we reward our members and why people belong to co-operatives, we are also considering other initiatives and developing a new branding strategy, again on Farmlands’ advice”.

The Australian co-op, is about three and half hours drive west of Melbourne. It was set up about 40 years ago by a small group of farmers who wanted cheaper access to rural supplies and services for themselves and likeminded farmers in western Victoria.

It has 11,000 members, compared with Farmlands’ 15,000, but only one major rural retail store, with another two smaller stores, an urban retail outlet, and a large herd improvement business. It had a turnover of $34 million last year.

Farmlands has 27 rural retail stores throughout the North Island and last month announced plans to expand into the outskirts of Auckland. It reported record sales of $282 million.

Mrs Harlock said when she heard about Farmlands she couldn’t believe it had so many stores located so close together.

“I also thought it can’t have any competition.

“I had to see it to believe it and had my theories blown away,” she said.


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