Countrywide Farmers plc has revealed that it has appointed advisors “to explore a potential sale” of its retail business, comprising 53 country stores. It confirmed the closure of 14 stores in February, but says it does not anticipate that the Rural Energy – LPG or Turf and Amenity businesses will be affected.
In releasing its final results for the year ending 30 November 2016, the company reports “a loss after tax from continuing operations for the period of £(9.9)m (2015: £(8.2)m) following disappointing trading performance and continued investment through what has been a period of considerable change and transition, including the full rollout of the Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP system across the business.” It closed 14 retail stores in February.
A statement on the company blog says: “It is clear to the Board that the retail environment remains challenging and that to compete effectively for the long-term will require further rationalisation of the cost base along with potential further investment.”
It says that trading performance in the new financial year continues in line with expectations. “Rural Energy has seen a strong start with volumes ahead of prior year, as it continues to pursue its growth strategy. Similarly, Turf and Amenity has also made an encouraging start to the year. Retail continues to see improvement in like-for-like performance and on-shelf availability after facing serious issues through the latter part of last year.”
The company says it “has agreed funding facilities that support the requirements of the entire company for the foreseeable future.”