Cornwall Farmers has announced a £2.3 million investment in the business that will grow its presence as a leading supplier to rural communities across Cornwall and Devon.
The farmer-owned co-operative, which has been trading for more than 90 years and employs 200 people, is upgrading its network of Country Stores, investing in new IT systems and staff training, and increasing its range of services and products to appeal to a wider customer base.
The investment is being supported with £920,000 from the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership’s Business Catalyst Fund, which exists to help eligible businesses improve productivity and create jobs and is funded by the Government’s Regional Growth Fund.
Across the country over 3,000 small and medium sized businesses have received money from the Regional Growth Fund, including SMEs in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly.
Simon Birch, chief executive of Cornwall Farmers, said: “This is a major investment programme that will benefit all areas of the business. It will allow us to better serve our heartland agricultural customer base while appealing to new groups of customers who love the countryside but might not have tried us before.
“Our aim is to build on our reputation for rural expertise and quality products, increase footfall to our stores and ensure a sustainable future for our co-operative. The support from the Business Catalyst Fund is a strong vote of confidence in Cornwall Farmers and we look forward to realising our plans over the next year.”
Chris Pomfret, chairman of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Cornwall Farmers is a significant employer and an integral part of rural life in our region. This support from our Business Catalyst Fund will help accelerate the co-operative’s modernisation programme, create and protect jobs, boost productivity in the agricultural sector through the enhancement of local stores and open up new markets for local suppliers as Cornwall Farmers expands its offer to customers.”
As part of its growth plans Cornwall Farmers will be investing in its country stores across Cornwall and Devon. This will include the introduction of a bold new store concept at selected stores under the new name of Patch & Acre Country Stores.
The store enhancement programme will be underpinned by a substantial investment in new IT systems across the board to transform the way Cornwall Farmers does business with its customers, including new routes to market and increased business efficiency.
And there will be a comprehensive training programme for all Cornwall Farmers staff focused on customer service delivery.
The first store to be modernised and undergo the Patch & Acre transformation will be the Cornwall Farmers Penzance store, which is having a £300,000 upgrade before its official opening on Thursday, 5th December this year.
Simon Birch added: “We’ll be rolling out Patch & Acre across selected stores in the coming months and the concept reflects the wider customer base we want to attract. Whether you have a patch of land like your garden or allotment, or acres of land on your commercial farm or smallholding, we want to be your Country Store of choice because we combine expertise with durable, quality products that are fit for country living.
“Cornwall Farmers will never lose sight of the mission we started 93 years ago to return value to our members and customers. It’s what drives us today and will drive us in the future.”
Cornwall Farmers 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.
The Business Catalyst Fund is managed by Cornwall Development Company on behalf of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Economic Partnership and Cornwall Council and is funded by the Regional Growth Fund.
More information is available on the CDC and Regional Growth Fund websites: