4 Aug 2011

Allied Farmers sells seven retail stores

8:55 am on 4 August 2011

Ailing rural services company Allied Farmers has sold most of its retail stores for an undisclosed amount to the Fonterra-owned RD1 to repay debt.

The rural supplies unit of Allied Farmers will sell seven stores to its rival, while RD1 will take over the lease of another shop.

Allied Farmers says it has repaid $50 million in the year to June and the money from the sale will be used to speed up its debt reduction plans.

Steve Morrison of Allied Farmers says the company will concentrate on its livestock and real estate businesses.

RD1 will buy the Allied stores in Manaia, Eltham, Pungarehu, Waverley, Inglewood, Piopio and Opunake and will take over the lease of the Taumarunui store.

The purchase will expand RD1's store numbers to 64, and its general manager, Nick Berry, says it deepens the company's presence in Taranaki.

Mr Berry says RD1 also will merge the New Plymouth, Stratford and Hawera into its own operations in those towns - taking the inventory and employing as many of the staff as possible.

Eltham dairy farmer Harvey Leach, the Federated Farmers president in Taranaki, is relieved that the sole rural store in his town will survive, since losing the stores in small centres would mean long journeys to other centres.

"The fact that we've actually been able to save one of our iconic businesses, while it may not be under Allied Farmers, at least that business is still trading and those people have employment, which is great."