New auction centre at Crooklands set to grow

The Westmorland Gazette: Paul Clow Paul Clow

THE state-of-the-art J36 Rural Auction Centre at Crooklands could operate seven days a week as it offers a wider range services to farmers and the rural community, its new boss has predicted.

Chief executive Paul Clow, who joined the mart’s parent company L and K Group in September, revealed the likelihood of expansion as he looked forward to trading prospects for 2014.

“Our long term business plan is both positive and prudent,” said Mr Clow. “We want to expand and we will explore the possibility of offering customers a seven-day a week facility.

“As we attract more buyers and sellers from a wider geographic area, we would like to increase our programme of commercial and pedigree sales and look at fulfilling other requirements in the agricultural and rural industrial sectors.

“Livestock auctions will always be our core business, but it is important for our shareholders that we broaden our revenue base by diversification. Working with existing and new tenants we can make the site a vital hub for the whole agricultural industry.”

L and K Group chairman John Drinkall said the opening of the rural centre last spring after a decade of planning was an ‘undisputed highlight of 2013’.

The scheme turned 13.5 acres of a 25-acre site into buildings housing two sales rings, 280 pens and 14 loading docks capable of handling 8,000 sheep and 1,100 head of cattle. Fifteen retail units filled with agriculture-related businesses, including a café and conference rooms, and four tenants moved into a further three large external units.

Mr Drinkall said: “Sale highlights include a large entry of cattle, matched by a large turn-out of buyers, for the annual Grass Day show and Sale of Store Cattle in May. At the Blue Diamond sale in September the Dunns, from Devon, saw their British Blue Heifer sell for 20,000gns. “At the inaugural Prize Show and Sale of Registered Fell Ponies in October, prices peaked at 1320gns for a filly and a new market record was set in December when a heifer sold for £3,000.

“In other areas of the business, sale highs include agricultural land prices exceeding £15,000 per acre, two farms selling for over £1million each and a private sale of land reaching over £1 million.”

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