2 Report from the CEO
Growth and professionalisation
The Total Feed Business means that ForFarmers supplies compound feed as well as products such as raw materials, co-products, specialities, seeds and fertilisers. The starting point is that the farmer receives a total nutritional solution, which is consistent with his objectives and business situation.
ForFarmers also collaborates increasingly with strategic partners - such as Nutreco in the field of young animal feed and specialities and Agrifirm in the purchase of fertilisers, seeds and crop protection. This is a win-win situation for all parties with the aim of providing a total package of high-quality products and advice resulting in a higher return for the farmer.
ForFarmers wants to continue to grow - autonomously under our own steam - but also through acquisitions. We strengthened our position last year, on the one hand through the Total Feed approach roll out and on the other hand by the acquisitions of Wheyfeed Ltd and HST Feeds Ltd and the announced proposed acquisition of the feed and forage business of Countrywide Farmers, all in the UK. We have also grown in the organic sector. The fact that, since October 2014, Agrifirm produces all organic feed at ForFarmers subsidiary Reudink has also contributed to this.
However, we have had to recognise that intensive livestock farming on the European continent in particular has not had an easy year. In addition there are regions of the Netherlands, the UK and Germany that encountered bird flu at the end of 2014. This was a particularly frustrating and costly matter for all involved to which the organisation responded promptly and professionally. Crisis management was excellent and the measures announced by the government to prevent the risk of bird flu spreading were responded to swiftly and suitably. During this period ForFarmers was able to continue supplying its customers.
Animal welfare and animal health are becoming increasingly important. Therefore ForFarmers is investing in the “Gildehoen”, a concept for slow-growing broiler chickens. This concept was given a huge boost in 2014 by growing interest from the retail sector. In addition, the retail sector has also introduced some interesting sustainability concepts that are in line with ForFarmers sustainability policy. By our involvement in these initiatives we have been able to further expand our leading position in animal welfare concepts.
In order to further professionalise the management of the organisation and implement the new strategy, in 2014 the Board of Directors made two appointments and a number of tasks were redistributed. Stijn Steendijk joined the management team as director of Strategy & Organisation and Steven Read as director of Purchasing, Pricing & Formulation. Nico de Vos, who used to be director of Nutrition, was made director of Operations & Supply Chain.
An important element was the One ForFarmers approach. This approach stands for a clear-cut manner of working so that the potential of the various ForFarmers companies is optimally used for customers. The use of talent throughout countries in senior and other management positions encourages mutual knowledge exchange between business divisions. This has led to knowledge and competence being more effectively and widely used, and enabling us to provide a better Total Feed solution for the customer and so doing to improve his return.
One ForFarmers is also about the transformation to one brand name for the entire organisation. This rebranding to the ForFarmers brand was started in October 2014 in the UK. This process, including the switch in the Netherlands and Belgium from ForFarmers Hendrix to ForFarmers, is planned to be completed during 2015.
During the General Meeting in April 2014 the shareholders approved the examination by the Board of Directors of what the advantages and disadvantages of a public listing would be. A listing on a public exchange is not an urgent matter for ForFarmers. The organisation has adequate financial resources to meet its growth objectives, also through the flexible credit facility taken out this year. The current trading platform is not very accessible for institutional investors. In order to lift this restriction, the Supervisory Board approved the announcement that the company intends to be listed on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange in 2016. A final resolution will be adopted in the shareholders’ meeting in April 2016.
2014 was a year of further integration and transition, with huge steps being taken internally and externally. Together with a satisfactory financial result, the company's solid basis was further strengthened and we have a sound foundation to build on in the coming years. The dedication and involvement of all employees have been crucial for this. The Board of Directors greatly appreciates this and thanks everyone involved for their contribution and the customers for their confidence in the organisation.
Lochem, 18 March 2015