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Wynnstay to buy eight stores from Countrywide Farmers

By James Pugh | Bridgnorth | Business Picks | Published:

The future of one of the county's Countrywide Farmers stores has been secured after being bought by agricultural and retail group Wynnstay.

Countrywide Farmers Bridgnorth store

The Bridgnorth store is one of eight across the country Wynnstay has revealed it has reached agreement over with the administrators of Countrywide Farmers.

The other stores are located in Devon, Cornwall, Wales and Oxfordshire.

It means question marks still remain over the future of the Countrywide stores in Ludlow, Market Drayton and Whitchurch.

Last months the administrators overseeing the sale of Countrywide Farmers announced at least 20 leasehold stores were under offer from credible bidders seeking to run them as a going concern.

Countrywide, which appointed administrators on March 7 after failing to attract a bidder that met competition regulator approval, has 28 leased stores and 20 on freehold sites to dispose of.

A statement from the administrators said the majority of stores will continue to trade into May but the aim is to conclude transactions with new owners as soon as possible.

Llansantffraid-based Wynnstay said the Countrywide stores provide a range of products for farmers and the rural community, and operate similarly to its own Wynnstay Country Stores.

In the year to November 30 2017, the new stores generated combined sales of £16.4 million.

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At completion, the total number of Wynnstay Country Stores will increase from 52 to 60 outlets.

Ken Greetham, chief executive officer of Wynnstay, said: "We are very pleased to have acquired eight country stores previously operated by Countrywide Famers. Their addition increases our footprint in both our existing trading heartland, and in the south west of England, in particular giving us an increased profile in Cornwall and Devon.

"Farmers and the rural community are at the heart of Wynnstay's offering and we look forward to welcoming new customers to the group, as we introduce our products and services across these new stores."

Wynnstay will announce half year results for the six months ended April 30 in mid-June.

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Rural retailer Mole Valley Farmers had been in discussions prior to the collapse of Countrywide Farmers to buy up the entire of its store portfolio but the Competition and Markets Authority stepped in to assess whether that would drive up prices for customers.

After an initial inquiry, a secondary investigation was triggered which was not due to conclude until August, and Countrywide directors took the decision to go into administration after being faced with cashflow pressure.

From a total of 700 employees, 32 have so far been made redundant, with 20 going from the company's Evesham headquarters and 12 from a distribution site at Defford.

James Pugh

By James Pugh
@JamesP_Star

Shropshire Star Business and Farming Editor.

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