Lingrain Chairman Hugh Baker explained that company reserves had been rising for some time and despite a substantial store refurbishment programme, retained surpluses had reached a level where it would be possible to re-distribute a sum amongst members without prejudicing on-going activities.
Hugh Baker added that the decision to return surplus funds to members was not an indication that the co-op was planning to de-mutualise, but instead that “it was simply the right thing to do by members at this time”.
“Lingrain has no intention of involving the private sector in store ownership and we have recently renewed a management agreement with our long-term marketing partner Openfield, another farmer-controlled business, which will lead to continued export opportunities and support the long-term profitability of the business.
“Over the years we have expanded only when sufficient demand has existed to support it and resisted the temptation to add to the management team or back-office personnel beyond that needed to serve member interests,” he added.
It is this astute management that enables Lingrain to offer storage at what is probably one of the lowest costs of any UK central store operation.
“At £100 per tonne payable over seven years and with no interest charges during that period, Lingrain represents a compelling storage solution. Combined with low annual utilisation charges, it is probably one of the lowest cost central storage facilities in the country and one of only a few that also has a history of returning surpluses to members,” he adds.