From the CEO

I hope you and your families remain safe and well during a challenging time for the world.

Our frequent communication with shareholders over the past few months has been our way of being open and up-front about how COVID-19 affects your co-operative. Throughout the process, we have placed a premium on the safety of our people in-store and on the road, visiting crops and farms. I thank every shareholder that has adapted to our new processes when ordering online, via email or over the phone.

Our COVID Click and Collect online platform is an example of how we have responded swiftly to the challenges this pandemic has presented. Online shopping platforms can take months – even years – to develop. While our fully re-developed online store is still being worked on, we identified the need to provide our shareholders with more options. From creation to deployment, COVID Click and Collect (which you can access through logging into MyFarmlands) took our team 4 weeks to get up and running.

Our turnover has been significantly impacted by COVID-19. Less shareholders and customers visiting our stores means less money coming in. We have responded by reducing our cost base wherever possible. We have accepted the Government's offer via the wage subsidy scheme and have reviewed all functions of our business, to identify ways to save money.

One of the functions that we knew operated at a loss – our Member Fee structure – has been rectified after months of planning. I appreciate and acknowledge that this can be seen as 'bad timing' given what continues to go on around us.

The increase does not help Farmlands gain any profit. Rather, it is a true reflection of the cost of administering an Account – a fee on a par (or lower) than other organisations. The timing of our annual fee is usually 1st February of each year and the decision to delay until 1st May was made to find alternative options to the fee increase.

As always, we are happy to discuss your business needs while we find our new temporary normal. Stay safe – whether at home or your place of work.