Two major livestock auction companies H&H Group PLC (H&H) and John Swan & Sons PLC (John Swan) have combined to create the UK’s largest marts business, which will offer new opportunities to farmers in Northern England and the Scottish Borders.
The addition of the two John Swan & Sons marts in Newtown St Boswells in Roxburghshire, and Wooler in Northumberland, to the portfolio of seven operated by Harrison & Hetherington in Cumbria, the Borders and County Durham, creates the UK’s biggest livestock mart based marketing operation.
“This acquisition gives livestock farmers and the wider agricultural community greater opportunities to market their animals and produce. Harrison & Hetherington is a leading pedigree and commercial marts business and the addition of the St Boswells and Wooler markets will allow us to further build the business for Northern and Scottish farmers.”Brian Richardson, chief executive of H&H Group
This acquisition brings together two well-respected livestock marketing businesses that both have heritages stretching back more than a century. The strength of the Carlisle-based H&H Group, which owns Harrison & Hetherington, will allow fresh investment in the marts to best serve farmers across Northern England and Southern Scotland, and further increases the group’s coverage into Northumberland.
The H&H Group has also acquired as part of the deal extensive property interests in the Borders and Edinburgh from John Swan, which it is keen to develop in conjunction with various partners during the coming years. All John Swan staff will transfer to the H&H Group, which is already advertising to grow the team.
Brian Richardson, chief executive of H&H Group, said: “This acquisition gives livestock farmers and the wider agricultural community greater opportunities to market their animals and produce. Harrison & Hetherington is a leading pedigree and commercial marts business and the addition of the St Boswells and Wooler markets will allow us to further build the business for Northern and Scottish farmers.
“Both Harrison & Hetherington and John Swan are known for their close relationships with farmers, and we’re now seeking to further develop the service to our customers. In the short-term, our aim is to make the amalgamation of the two businesses as seamless as possible, retaining and focusing on the farmers and looking at how we can develop market share which is all about delivering our customer’s needs.
“The Harrison & Hetherington business has been built around a very strong relationship with our customers and we will build on this with the Swans business, understanding their needs and working as a partner to them in supporting their businesses.
“In the medium to long term, we’ll be making sure we can provide livestock farmers with an effective market for their livestock across the North of England and further afield. We’ll be continuing to build on our very strong relationships with the meat industry at all levels as well as providing the market for breeding stock which is a very big part of both businesses.”
James Allen, chairman of John Swan, commenting said: “The amalgamation of John Swan Limited and Harrison and Hetherington Limited, should ensure strong markets at both Wooler and St Boswells going forward, which will be good for Agriculture in North Northumberland and the Scottish Borders. In these uncertain times its essential that farming has strong markets to ensure customers get the best possible prices for their stock. I look forward to exciting times in the future as the business continues to grow.”
In addition to the livestock auction business, H&H will also be expanding its land agency and insurance business to John Swan customers in Northumberland and the Borders. H&H Land and Property offers expertise in every aspect of rural property from its offices in Carlisle, Durham and Middleton in Teesdale, working with farmers, landowner and commercial leisure and residential interests.
H&H Insurance Brokers have offices in Carlisle, Durham, Ruthin and Middleton in Teesdale offering expertise and a diverse and comprehensive portfolio of insurance products tailored to individual needs, from equine to livestock, arable, commercial and high net worth.
The H&H Group operates in auctioneering, property advice and sales, insurance and printing with a focus on agricultural and rural economy, and a strong reputation for looking after its customers.
Overall, the announcement is a partnership which:
* Brings together two livestock businesses with a strong strategic fit. As a long-term investor in the auctioneering sector, H&H is well placed to extract more value from the mart business than John Swan could alone.
* Offers the opportunity of cross-selling to John Swan’s customers the wider range of services offered by the H&H Group.
* Provides a streamlined, more efficient business, building on and integrating John Swan’s livestock auctioneering business where possible.
* With H&H as its parent, allow the business to focus on the rural and farmer customers being part of a business with the scale and long term strategy to invest in the sector.