A DIVERSIFIED Derbyshire farm is more profitable following strategic advice from commercial property consultancy Innes England.
The firm, which looks after around 1500 tenants throughout the UK, was appointed to manage Bankfields Farm in Draycott in 2018, with a brief to completely review the site and advise on how to get the best return on investment.
Steve Barker has lived at Bankfields his whole life but, faced with an uncertain future as dairy farmers, the family decided to start winding down in 2003. Steve and his father, Tim, obtained planning permission for three industrial units, which they rent to local businesses, alongside running a horse livery and tree surgery business.
Steve Barker said: “When we decided to diversify, we wanted to do it properly and invested in good quality units. It’s been a good move, but we’re very busy with the other businesses and it’s hard to keep on top of everything on our own.”
Farm diversification – where the farmer uses assets, such as land, buildings or machinery, to develop a new business activity -- has become increasingly commonplace. According to government figures, more than half of England’s 57,000 farms have diversified in some form.
Matt Howson, associate director at Innes England, is leading the team managing the farm. He said: “The income generated by diversification is a vital component of many farming businesses, so it’s important that their investments make a healthy return. It’s our job to help our clients make the most of their assets and good communication is key.
“We spent a lot of time with Steve and Tim, getting to know them and understanding their needs and aspirations. We discovered one lease had expired and the other two were coming up for renewal, which could have potentially caused issues for both landlord and tenants.
“After careful negotiation with the tenants, we completed the three lease renewals, creating stability and certainty for both landlord and tenants.
“Our strategic advice has allowed Steve and Tim to reduce future liabilities and ensure the lettings bring in vital income at the market rate.
“We’re now looking to see how we can develop the site further and use the space to its maximum potential.”
Steve Barker added: “We’ve built up a good relationship with Matt and he understands what we’re trying to achieve. We have a lot of balls to juggle so it’s good to have someone we trust keeping an eye on things.”