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North-east tractor dealership looks to the future after shake-up

By David Porter

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Last week’s announcement by John Deere of the long-anticipated shake-up of dealerships in Scotland saw Netherton Tractors appointed to take over dealerships in Perthshire and the north-east which had been held for the past 40 years by HRN Tractors Ltd of Insch.

HRN Insch
HRN Insch

In a statement on Thursday evening, HRN who operate sites in Insch, Turriff and Kinloss as well as in Muir of Ord, Caithness and Balbeggie in Perthshire explained the situation to customers in a post made via social media.

It explains: "First and foremost, we would like to assure our stakeholders that HRN is in a secure place and will continue to grow and strive for excellence, whilst fully supporting our staff and customers.

"Many of our farming family customers have dealt with us for over 40 years and it is our staff and customers that have made the company the success it is today.

"We remain fully committed to you all.

"We signed an annual contract renewal with John Deere in October 2019, and six weeks later, we were verbally told by John Deere management that in order to allow another John Deere dealer to survive in the area, they would be terminating HRN’s contract at Balbeggie.

"In addition, they advised that their ideal scenario would be that HRN continue as John Deere dealers north of Stonehaven, but that we cease trading completely in the Perthshire and surrounding area, to avoid us taking on another franchise and competing with the other John Deere dealer in the area.

"At that time, HRN Balbeggie held 46.3per cent of the market in their area.

"We are long established there, with a committed, hard-working workforce at Balbeggie and have built up a loyal customer base in the area.

"To cease trading there is not an option for us.

"After further discussions with John Deere, we have decided to part company after 40 years, which will become effective as of the end of October 2020.

"It has become abundantly clear that our visions of the future of Scottish agriculture differ greatly and we have completely lost trust in the company.

"In particular, we were perturbed by the following statements made to us by a senior member of John Deere management: “Farming north of Stonehaven will be non-sustainable in the future” and “the west of Scotland will all be planted in trees”.

"We feel this shows a complete disconnect with reality.

"Our customers are farming some of the most productive land in Scotland and helped by diversification and new income streams, as well as the opportunity to trade in global markets – we are confident that farming in Scotland will prosper in the future. HRN is a company built on reputation and trust, neither of which we can now rely on with John Deere UK.

"We are a forward thinking, progressive company, continually investing in staff, training, new depots and the future.

"We will continue this vision, whilst maintaining our customers and the support we provide them, as our top priority.

"We have seven depots across the country, currently have the largest selection of used and nearly new agricultural machinery and equipment in Scotland and are exploring the possibility of taking on new franchises.

"We are excited about the future and the developments it will bring.

"It is vital to our relationship with our customers that we can provide them with a product that we fully believe in, and that is our continued plan.

"We are always at the end of a telephone for any customers with further concerns.

"We are all part of the HRN brand and we will continue to develop it as a team.

"Until the next deal, Neil and Stuart Barclay."

The changes are part of a European-wide shake-up of dealerships by Deere who announced its new Dealer of Tomorrow strategy to their 350 European dealers at Agritechnica in Hannover in November which will see a reduction of about a third to a fifth in Deere dealerships.

The company wants to create multi-depot super dealers with the potential to sell 1000 (over 50hp) tractors a year, 50 combines and 15 foragers (depending on area) and achieve a turnover of over 100 million euros.

It was announced in July that Netherton Tractors had been appointed to establish a new agricultural and homeowner equipment dealership outlet in Perth to service the Perth and Kinross area, along with existing dealerships based at Forfar and Glenrothes, and was followed last Tuesday with the announcement that Netherton, as of November 1, would also take over the north-east dealership operating from two new outlets at Turriff and Nairn.

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