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Farming machinery firm Fleming Agri going for growth with £4m jobs boost

 

By Margaret Canning

A manufacturer of agricultural machinery in the north west has announced an investment of £4m and 34 new jobs as it aims for fresh markets including the US.

Fleming Agri Products in Newbuildings makes equipment for farming and grounds maintenance including landrollers, muck spreaders and hay makers, which it sells mainly to machinery dealers.

The investment comes after the company's annual report said an upturn in the farming industry help lead to an increase of nearly 21% in sales for 2017, from £8.6m to £10.4m.

Pre-tax profits also rose from £1.1m to £1.3m.

As well as heavy equipment, the company has developed a range of merchandise such as bodywarmers, coast and fleeces, which it sells on e-commerce website farm-wardrobe.com.

Now chairman and founder George Fleming has announced a £4m spend to further its growth plans and boost its sales in external markets.

Economic development agency Invest NI has offered £220,000 of support towards the new roles, which include production operatives, sales executives and managers.

The 34 staff, with average salaries of around £20,000, will be in place by 2020, although 15 of the jobs are already filled.

The firm has around 100 staff at the moment.

Mr Fleming said: "This £4m investment will help us to meet our strategic growth plans and boost sales in external markets.

"Over the past few years, we have developed new products which have helped to significantly improve our sales performance.

"With this new investment and the addition of 34 new staff, we hope to break into new markets, including the US, and expand our existing sales in Europe.

"Our main goal is to increase sales in external markets and put in place the necessary resources and infrastructure to enable us to service the increased demand for our products."

He added the spending was "a major commitment" to the north wesst and its existing staff.

Des Gartland, executive director for regional business at Invest NI, said: "Fleming Agri Products is a highly regarded business in the north west area with a strong brand reputation.

"We have offered Fleming Agri wide-ranging support over the last number of years, helping the company improve its performance and strengthen its business. The company's pragmatic approach has proven extremely successful and it is great to see an indigenous company reinvesting in the local area.

"The new jobs being created will generate over £700,000 in additional annual salaries for the Northern Ireland economy, which is a great boost for the Derry City and Strabane District Council area."

In a strategic report accompanying the results for 2017, the company said: "The increase in turnover is attributable to an improvement in profitability in the farming industry in general, particularly in the milk sector.

"The buoyant market led to an upturn in demand for agricultural machinery which was complimented by increased production and efficiency."

It's a frequent attender at farming events such as the National Ploughing Championships in Co Offaly last month, and will also be at the Midlands Machinery Show in Newark and AgriScot outside Edinburgh in November.

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