When Lachie Johnstone first started on the board of Farmlands 19 years ago the rural services cooperative ran 32 stores with a turnover of $280 million.
The sale, for an undisclosed sum, means Farmlands’ real estate offices and staff are now under the Property Brokers umbrella and branding. However, Farmlands says it will maintain a relationship with Property Brokers under a long-term deal that preserves member benefits for its shareholders.
The two parties are calling it a “long-term strategic partnership” with about 20% of the rural property market and aspirations to lead the sector.
Farmlands’ director of agri products and services, Andrew Horsbrugh, said the co-op brought its great knowledge of rural people and the land to the deal while Property Brokers brought its specialist real estate knowledge. He believed their combined skills would “achieve something pretty special”.
Horsburgh said the Farmlands brand will remain linked to Property Brokers’ rural advertising.
“We want the market to understand that this is the Farmlands real estate offer provided by Property Brokers and there’ll be joint branding in rural real estate.”
The rural co-op will receive a contribution on future land sales, while shareholders using Property Brokers services will still receive special offers including discount on commission and the co-operative’s customer loyalty scheme.
Farmlands had about 110 real estate staff across 40-odd offices, some standalone and some situated in its retail stores. There were redundancies “but very few,” Horsburgh claimed.
The deal took effect in mid-November except for the West Coast, where the two companies’ combined market share requires Commerce Commission approval, now applied for.
The two companies said in a statement that the deal provides a broader footprint, increased scale, more resources and improved service for customers, including Farmlands’ 70,000 shareholders and Property Brokers’ provincial client base.
Property Brokers now owns and manages the day-to-day real estate business, while Farmlands will continue to support real estate through its network, events, customer loyalty programme and shareholder discounts.
“Farmlands Co-operative has a strong network, highly regarded brand and expert knowledge of the rural sector.
“Property Brokers is a business that solely focuses on real estate: we know and understand provincial property and real estate agents,” said Conrad Wilkshire, Property Brokers general manager, rural.
“We are a growing business, and our real estate track record is backed up with strong training, systems and marketing support.”
Farmlands chief executive Peter Reidie says the partnership is a great result for shareholders.
“More customers up and down the country will now have access to specialist rural, lifestyle and residential real estate services and property management.”
The new partnership will take Property Brokers to over 700 staff across 64 locations from Kaitaia to Invercargill.