Redundancies at bust UK ag supplier despite ‘strong’ market interest for takeover

KPMG, the administrator for Countrywide Farmers, announces 32 layoffs and says bids for the company are to be made by Wednesday.

A major retailer of UK agricultural supplies has had its first wave of layoffs after being put into administration.

KPMG, which was designated the administrator of Countrywide Farmers two weeks ago, said 32 staff were to be made redundant at the company’s headquarters in Evesham and at a distribution site in Defford, to “maximise the available trading period.”

“Our strategy remains to continue to trade to realize stock, whilst we develop and convert interest in parts of the business and packages of stores,” said David Pike, a partner at KPMG and joint administrator of Countrywide Farmers.

The news comes as KPMG continues to search for potential suitors for the company, which employs more than 700 staff across 48 stores. The administrator said it has received “a strong response from the market” and stressed that the deadline for submitting bids was March 28.

A mooted takeover by farmer-owned Mole Valley, a rival with revenues of £464 million ($651 million; €527 million), collapsed in early March after the market regulator ruled the merger would result in a “substantial lessening of competition.”

KPMG cited difficult trading conditions and stock availability as the main factors that pushed the company into administration. “Many retailers are facing a difficult time with current market conditions,” it said earlier this month.