Cornwall Farmers has announced a £2.3 million investment that will be intended to grow its presence as a supplier to rural communities across Cornwall and Devon.
The farmer-owned co-operative, which has been trading for more than 90 years and employs 200 people.
The investment is being supported with £920,000 from the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership’s Business Catalyst Fund, which exists to help eligible businesses improve productivity and create jobs and is funded by the Government’s Regional Growth Fund.
Across the country over 3,000 small and medium sized businesses have received money from the Regional Growth Fund, including SMEs in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly.
Simon Birch, chief executive of Cornwall Farmers, said: “This is a major investment programme that will benefit all areas of the business. It will allow us to better serve our heartland agricultural customer base while appealing to new groups of customers who love the countryside but might not have tried us before.
Chris Pomfret, chairman of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Cornwall Farmers is a significant employer and an integral part of rural life in our region. This support from our Business Catalyst Fund will help accelerate the co-operative’s modernisation programme, create and protect jobs, boost productivity in the agricultural sector through the enhancement of local stores and open up new markets for local suppliers as Cornwall Farmers expands its offer to customers.”
As part of its growth plans Cornwall Farmers will be investing in its country stores across Cornwall and Devon.
The store enhancement programme will be underpinned by a substantial investment in new IT systems across the board to transform the way Cornwall Farmers does business with its customers, including new routes to market and increased business efficiency.
And there will be a comprehensive training programme for all Cornwall Farmers staff focused on customer service delivery.
The first store to be modernised and undergo the Patch & Acre transformation will be the Cornwall Farmers Penzance store, which is having a £300,000 upgrade before its official opening on Thursday, 5th December this year.
Simon Birch added: “We’ll be rolling out Patch & Acre across selected stores in the coming months and the concept reflects the wider customer base we want to attract. Whether you have a patch of land like your garden or allotment, or acres of land on your commercial farm or smallholding, we want to be your Country Store of choice because we combine expertise with durable, quality products that are fit for country living."
The Business Catalyst Fund is managed by Cornwall Development Company on behalf of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Economic Partnership and Cornwall Council and is funded by the Regional Growth Fund.