The construction of the new Scotbeef Inverurie abattoir at Thainstone has now moved on to the near horizon thanks to some progress with planning.
Speaking at a press briefing ahead of the release of ANM Group’s annual report, chairman Pete Watson described the process as being ‘like a journey along a road strewn with boulders’.
After appeal ANM Group has at last received outline planning permission to extend the Thainstone Business Park adjacent to the mart.
Now Aberdeenshire Council are considering the detailed specifications with a view to granting specific permissions. This application is likely to be considered by the planning committee in May.
This has cleared the way for Scotbeef Inverurie to in turn lodge a planning application for the construction of the abattoir. This is expected to take between 30 and 40 weeks to process.
Grant Rogerson, ANM Group chief executive said: “The contractors are ready to start but we are at the mercies of planning laws as we have been for the last three years."
ANM Group has a 25 per cent share in Scotbeef Inverurie with the balancing 75 per cent held by Bridge of Allan based Scotbeef.
The new abattoir will replace two adjacent premises in the centre of Inverurie. The new abattoir is expected to be of similar design to the Scotbeef plant at Bridge of Allan which is recognised as one of the most efficient in the UK.
It is expected that there will be a slaughtering line for cattle at Inverurie but no facility for sheep.
A £4m grant through the Processing and Marketing Grant Scheme has already been allocated to the project.
ANM Group, one of Scotland’s largest agricultural co-operatives has reported a trading profit of £572,000 for the year ending December 31, 2017.
This compares to a trading profit of £470,000 in the previous year and continues to show that the business has recovered from a rocky spell which saw it divesting its Scotch Premier meat processing division and undergoing a major restructuring.
Shareholders in the co-operative have reacted by increasing share capital to a record level of £6m. Chief executive Grant Rogerson pointed to members’ benefits of £467,000 including dividend s of £147,000 and savings of £86,000 thanks to a cap on commission paid on livestock sold through its markets at Thainstone and Quoybrae in Caithness.
There is also an estimated interest saving of £132,000 due to lower rates paid on the ‘stock on agreement’ and new entrants schemes. The accounts show just over £7.3m of livestock purchasing loans made to members under ‘stock on agreement’ at the year end.
Mr Rogerson said: “It was a challenging end to 2017 with the wet harvest and poor autumn. We handled 310,000 sheep which was similar to 2016 and 80,000 cattle which is fractionally down but average price was up by £41 per head.”
He also revealed ambitions to spread ANM’s livestock activities ‘south and west’ from its Inverurie base.
The Thainstone Specialist Auctions division, which sells plant and machinery and conducts valuations throughout the UK is reported as having had a satisfactory year with increased throughput.
Net assets for ANM Group are shown as £27.3 m or £21.9m after allowing for a deficit on the defined pension scheme.