Six month review of Harrison & Hetherington’s St Boswells and Wooler Auction Marts

Front (left to right) Sarah Devlin, Nikki Gilbertson, Middle, Tony Hall, Back, Scott Donaldson and Adam Grieve
Front (left to right) Sarah Devlin, Nikki Gilbertson, Middle, Tony Hall, Back, Scott Donaldson and Adam Grieve

Harrison & Hetherington (H&H) became the largest livestock auctioneering company in the UK when, six months ago, they amalgamated with John Swan & Sons to run St Boswells and Wooler marts.

H&H believe there is potential to increase the usage of the facilities at both sites. Through increasing the services offered to customers and the number of people on the ground at both St Boswells and Wooler, H&H have already begun to see an increase in the number of livestock coming through the marts.

The primary focus is on prime stock and store sales; however the introduction of deadweight collections of cast cows and prime sheep as well as farm to farm sales offers the customer who has sought an alternative marketing route more options. All of these services are already operating successfully across their seven other marts across Cumbria and South West Scotland.

H&H have outlets for every class of store and breeding cattle and sheep as well as the expertise to operate pedigree sales at all sites. They are in the strongest of positions to market all types of stock in the most cost effective and efficient manner.

Harrison & Hetherington sales director, Scott Donaldson, said: “Despite an overall reduction in livestock numbers in the area, there remains a concentration of quality livestock in North Northumberland and the Borders and from our livestock centres at St Boswells and Wooler we want to work with producers to maximise potential markets.

“I strongly believe that there is a major role for livestock auctions to be involved in the marketing of livestock and through the marketing network of our nine livestock centres H&H are able to offer the most comprehensive and encompassing service to livestock farmers.

“In recent weeks H&H have seen an improvement in the prime sheep trade. Although the company has seen a tightening of numbers in some centres, the weakening of the pound has opened up opportunities in the export market. With the influence of beneficial fluctuations in the exchange rate, prospects are positive for new season lamb, and there has been genuine interest from abattoirs wishing to support H&H in the spring season.

“Currently we are right in the middle of the store cattle selling season, Wooler mart has increased numbers and price trends which is a great credit to the farmers in the area.

“One of the most recent H&H events was the annual spring sale of native bred store cattle, which was held on Thursday 24th March at St. Boswells mart. This is a showcase event for native cattle; particularly Aberdeen Angus bred in the Scottish Borders. The event is also the biggest one day sale of Aberdeen Angus cattle in the country.

“A busy ringside of buyers was reflected in the trade which was well ahead of seller’s expectations. The sale consisted of mainly 2015 spring born cattle primarily Aberdeen Angus cross along with a number of Shorthorn, Luing and Hereford. With steers averaging 225p per kg, and heifers 206p per kg, many consignments averaged very close to last year’s figures. Almost 200 more cattle were sold than at the same sale last year, which considering the current market for finishing cattle, was a remarkable result.

“In addition to this, with the backing of the Luing Cattle Society, we are looking to develop spring and autumn sales for both pedigree Luing and Sim-Luing females at St. Boswells mart.”

Aside from livestock sales, H&H intend to grow the machinery sales at St Boswells and Wooler which have become a regular feature at both sites; these have proved to be very popular.

Scott commented: “We are overwhelmed with the positive response we have received from customers in North Northumberland and the Scottish Borders. They have been made us feel very welcome since taking on Wooler and St. Boswells centres and we are greatly optimistic about the future of both marts.”