Feed producer deal ‘good news for farmers’

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AN animal feed producer which started life as a grocer’s shop has become part of a £110m turnover business following a major corporate deal.

William Thompson (York) has been bought by agricultural supplies business Brandsby Agricultural Trading Association (BATA) for an undisclosed sum.

The acquisition by Malton-based BATA, which also has country stores and provides a range of agricultural fuels, is one of the biggest deals completed in North Yorkshire this year.

Andrew Richardson, William Thompson (York) managing director, said: “The sale of our business to BATA is good news for both companies, our customers and, importantly, for the Yorkshire agriculture sector.

“The strength and depth of the group will provide even more specialist help to our customers’ businesses; helping them navigate through the global challenges that face the agricultural sector.”

William Thompson, which provides a wide range of dairy, pig, beef, sheep, game and fish feed compounds to farmers throughout Yorkshire and the North East, was founded as a grocery shop in Goodramgate, in York, by William Thompson 88 years ago.

In 2007, William Thompson was bought by its management team, who acquired shares from two of its former chairmen and two other shareholders, for an undisclosed sum.

At the time, the company said the management buyout was the culmination of a planned succession strategy, that followed a restructuring process five years earlier.

It paved the way for an exit by David Thompson, the son of the company’s founder, his nephew and former chairman, Mike Bainbridge, and two of Mr Bainbridge’s sisters, Ann Clark and Christine Clarke.

In recent years, William Thompson has established a research and development department to ensure that its products meet the stringent safety standards demanded by consumers and regulators.

The company’s products can be used to feed a range of animals, including calves, beef cattle and horses.

According to accounts filed at Companies House, William Thompson had turnover of around £32.33m in the year to April 30 2013, and it employed 37 staff.

BATA was established in 1894 as a farmers’ co-operative in Brandsby, which is 10 miles north of York.

It now has a network of 10 BATA country stores, two petrol stations and a specialist equestrian supply business. Today, it is still a co-operative with 4,000 share members.

Any profits are retained in part for future investment, and distributed to members as interest and dividend.

A team at North Yorkshire accountants and business advisers JWPCreers, together with commercial lawyer, Philip Lewis Ogden, from Harrowells Solicitors, in York, advised the management team at William Thompson in connection with the sale.

Mr Ogden said: “Having been part of the original professional team supporting the Thompson’s management buyout, I am very pleased to have been involved throughout and advised on this exciting sale. This will make a significant and positive contribution to the enlarged group.”

JWPCreers corporate finance partner Tony Farmer has advised William Thompson since 2007.

He added: “We have played a major role in what has been a significant corporate transaction.”

Nobody was available to comment about the acquisition at BATA yesterday.