Crookes strikes a major deal

2014-01-09 00:00

CROOKES Brothers, the agriculture group based on the South Coast, has bought the farming business, High Noon Farm, in Villiersdorp in the Western Cape, for R103 million in cash.

Crookes, which celebrated its centenary last year, generated revenue of R287 million in the six months to September 30 versus R239,3 million at the same time in 2012, while operating profit increased to R58 million from R42,5 million — the half-year dividend was held at 80 cents per share.

The High Noon Farm properties, bought from Ovenstone Farms, comprises 180 hectares of deciduous fruit, with 60 hectares available for planting. It will be integrated into Crookes’ existing Western Cape deciduous fruit operation.

Crookes, which has its head-office on the Renishaw farm outside Scottburgh, also produces cane, bananas, grain and farms sheep.

Apart from KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape, Crookes also owns farms in Mpumulanga, Swaziland and Zambia.

The High Noon Farm is located on the Elands River in the Kaaimansgat Valley, considered to be a prime deciduous producing area due to its unique micro climate and high-potential soils.

The acquisition will increase the area under deciduous fruit owned by Crookes to more than 600 hectares, enabling the company to take advantage of resultant economies of scale.

Chief executive officer Guy Clarke said at the annual general meeting last year their aim is to invest in new projects to the value of R500 million over the next five years.

At the time of the annual meeting in the middle of last year, the group was in discussion about 12 major projects in southern Africa, Clarke said on the group’s website.

The group’s strategy is informed by the growing need for food security in the world. The demand for food is expected to grow by 60% by 2050. Urbanisation and the African population is growing strongly and 60% of the world’s unfarmed arable land occurs in sub-Saharan Africa.

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