01 August 2022

Agri business - Asking the right question

Tractor harvesting a field

Clients ask us questions and there is nothing odd about that. But are you asking the right questions in order to find the right solution to meet your business objectives?

What do we mean?

A client in the ash industry was interested in negotiating a supply agreement. After discussions with them about the background to the agreement and their business, it became clear they needed to diversify their business. The agri sector was a sector they knew little about, but thought there may be some opportunities in, and possible uses of ash in the fertiliser industry. We introduced them to an operator of AD plants who had a surplus of digestate. From this, the client understood the difficulties of applying digestate to land, odour issues and what farmers actually wanted. This developed into processes for detoxifying ash for use as fertiliser and this span out into various other projects, such as granulation of chicken manure and other ash based products. At regular meetings where the client asked for help with strategy and specific legal aspects, we worked with them to develop their products, protect them, choose appropriate investors, form the right structures and commercially exploit the products. 

A food processing business with a large number of employees asked how to make some employees redundant. What the client really wanted was to reduce their payroll costs. There are many ways of doing this other than by compulsory redundancy, which can be a long and expensive process. We worked with the client to reduce the payroll costs, not by redundancy, but by understanding the client’s business and their needs. We used that knowledge to reduce the number of employees who were not needed for the future of that business and who had been in the business for a short period of time. This saved them money immediately and improved the sustainability and profitability of the business.

A farming business had a structure which had grown in complexity over the years. There was a farming partnership, limited company, land held in personal names, a farming tenancy, secured borrowing from the bank, pension trusts. Some family members wanted to continue in the business, others did not. The owner of the business did not know what to do and was becoming highly stressed about the situation. What he did know was that it could not continue the way it was. It was affecting both the business and the owner’s personal life. We worked with the owner to understand the business, the true ownership position, the rights of the various entities and helped him form the objective of where he wanted to be. Over time, the structure was changed and needs of the owner’s family taken care of. The result, a more efficient and clear structure. A business which was more suitable for the future of all involved and an owner who began to enjoy the business and his family life again.  

A foreign owned business asked us to draft terms and conditions of sale which would work in the UK but based upon their existing terms and conditions. We spent our time understanding their products and their business. They wanted to break into the UK agri market with a revolutionary high tech product. This involved hardware, software, animal rights and a host of other issues. The terms and conditions were part of the question, but what they really needed was someone who understood the UK market, their product and who had the skills to promote and supply it in the UK. Various solutions were looked at such as supplying direct to the customer from abroad, agents and distributors. In the end we helped them set up an English company which now employs several people in the UK to promote and supply their products. This model has been copied and adopted across several other European countries. Their business has gone from strength to strength. Something that simply supplying terms and conditions of sale would not have done.

At Wilkin Chapman, we do more than answer your questions, we take time to understand you and your business and help you ask the right questions and answer them, in order to meet your objectives and have a more sustainable and profitable business for the future.

If you need help asking the right question in your agri business, please contact us. We are here to work with you.

Alistair Latham, Wilkin Chapman LLP
Need help?

Contact Alistair to discuss this further.

Back to top