18 Nov 2015

ATS heads back into the black

8:39 am on 18 November 2015

Restructuring, tightening policies and axing dairy representatives has helped to shield Ashburton Trading Society from the rural down turn and lift its annual profit, the co-operative says.

Organic Jersey cow on a Rongotea farm.

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

ATS has 2700 farmer shareholders and operates three farm supplies stores in Ashburton, Methven and Rakaia.

This year it made a net profit after tax of $877,000, on a turnover of $114.4 million.

It recorded a loss of $339,000 the previous year.

Chairman Phil McKendry said it was a tough six months, but tightening its freight free policy and replacing its dairy representatives with a bolstered customer service centre helped to lift profits.

Taking full ownership of the card company, Rural-Co card services, after Ravensdown exited the partnership, also helped the bottom line.

"This current year we had a slow start to it for ATS, June to September, but October and November have been very strong months and we've more than caught up with budget, so there's a seasonal factor there, but also a bit of confidence return.

"We supply goods to farmers that are essential to run their business and while they've deferred some of it, they still have to get on and spend their money.

"It's still early in the seed year and there's a lot of discipline and a lot more caution around spend, but we're still confident we're going to trade profitably for the year," he said.

Mr McKendry said no rebates would be paid out this year, with some buildings needing upgrading.