Belfast Telegraph

Fane Valley 'delighted' with deal to take on top supplies firm Morton's

By Margaret Canning

Northern Ireland agri-business giant Fane Valley has snapped up an agricultural supplies business in Co Down, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

Co-op Fane Valley, now based in Moira, has acquired Morton's in Banbridge from Germinal Holdings for an undisclosed sum. The deal is to conclude on Saturday.

Joseph Morton founded the business in 1856 but in recent years, it had been controlled by the Gilbert and McCausland families through Germinal Holdings.

It specialises in products for soil health, seed selection, crop protection, forage conservation and feeding. The sale is another sign of consolidation in the agri-business sector - which holds its annual celebration at the Balmoral Show this week. It's also Fane Valley's first acquisition since it sold its milk business to Lakeland Dairies two years ago.

And Lakeland continues to be linked - along with three other dairy businesses - to a partnership with cross-border co-op LacPatrick.

Fane Valley chief executive Trevor Lockhart said it was "delighted" to be acquiring Morton's.

"The name has been synonymous with the agricultural supply industry in Northern Ireland, ever since the company was founded in 1856. The acquisition of Morton's offers a wonderful opportunity for Fane Valley to strengthen its involvement in the provision of soil health and agronomy-related products and services. It will complement the wider Fane Valley Stores business and enhance the overall service provision to our growing customer base."

And he said the Morton's name would be retained. "The current Fane Valley Stores agronomy business will be integrated with Morton's over the coming months and will trade under the Morton's name going forward.

"It is also intended that Fane Valley Stores and Germinal NI will continue to develop their partnership, with Fane Valley Stores stocking the full range of Germinal forage seed products."

Economist John Simpson said the deal reflected Fane Valley's recent change of direction. "It has been diversifying into being a supplying and distributing organisation rather than milk handling, and has been doing it very successfully.

"This latest deal shows that they're confident that the new direction they are going in is going well.

"Milk had become a very fine margin business and it's now been consolidated for Fane Valley into another business.

"I also hope that this move will benefit Fane Valley's members."

William Gilbert, managing director of the Germinal Group, said: Morton's has grown into a highly trusted and respected agricultural merchant serving farmers all across the province.

"Everything we have achieved would not have been possible without the hard work of our staff and the continued loyalty of our customers.

"On behalf of all involved with Germinal, I would like to put on record our deep gratitude and appreciation for the support the business received from the community over many decades.

"Fane Valley is a trusted, locally owned business with a strong and growing reputation in the supply of a wide range of farm requisites and technical support services."

Belfast Telegraph

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