Tag Archive: Rural

Tim Michie: Rural Partner Appointment

George F. White has appointed a new Partner in a strategic move to bolster their rural professional services. Tim Michie, who joined the firm as an APC Rural Graduate from the Royal Agricultural University in 2011, has been appointed as Partner; leading the rural professional team in Northumberland and the Borders as well as Land and Farm Agency across all offices and regions.

Tim Michie

Congratulating Tim on his appointment, George White, Founder and Senior Partner at the firm, said: “The sheer hard work and determination Tim has demonstrated since joining the firm in 2011 as a graduate is phenomenal. Not only has he succeeded in his professional work, but has made it his business to support the professional and personal development of others, creating a strong and highly motivated group of individuals as well as advocating our brand ethos, ‘people are at the centre of everything we do’. I have taken great pleasure in mentoring Tim over the years and he has become a great friend. Tim is one of a kind in the way he conducts such strong relationships with clients and the community and I am sure they, alongside the rest of the business, will share my confidence and admiration for him in his new role.”

Tim Michie has specialist knowledge of the traditional rural sector, however, is well versed in the political landscape and the opportunities that surround UK agriculture; he works alongside RICS commercial surveyors, RTPI planners as well technical consultants to ensure that his clients receive sound advice on managing and developing their assets.

Speaking about his new role, Tim said: “My appointment as Partner is testament to the support that I have received throughout my post-graduate studies and professional development from George F. White. I hope to continue this people-focused culture with the young people and graduates that are currently coming through the business. I am, of course, over the moon and I am looking forward to building upon the service that George founded with the business 40 years ago. It is an uncertain time for UK agriculture, however, as an industry, we remain strong and I will be focusing on ensuring our clients are exploring the opportunities that are available to them now and, alongside our farm team, preparing their businesses for opportunities that will arise in the future.”

Doddington Dairy

Doddington Dairy are, undoubtedly, one of the most recognisable locally produced food brands in the North East, they are also one of Northumberland’s very few remaining dairy farms. Their are sought-after across the length and breadth of the country, and over the years, it has received some of the highest industry accolades.

Doddington

It was almost 25 years ago, that brother and sister Neill and Margaret Ann Maxwell, who farm at Doddington near Wooler in Northumberland, realised that they needed to add value to their milk. After much research and training, they launched Doddington Cheese. In 2000, Neill and his wife Jackie went on to launch Doddington Dairy Ice Cream.

When they developed and marketed their cheeses, they were certainly ahead of the trend in terms of diversification. They were one of only a few companies in the UK producing hand-crafted, unpasteurised cheeses. When they launched their ice creams, they became the only farm-based ice cream producer between Aberdeenshire and York. Today, Doddington is one of the very few dairy farms left in Northumberland, they employ in the region of 20 members of staff in the dairy and on the farm, making them one of the largest employers in the Wooler and Glendale community.

The Maxwell family are passionate about their products and their local provenance. They have always used, and will only use, natural ingredients. Both cheeses and ice creams are still made from their own milk. As a high profile North East brand, where possible, in making their ice creams, cheeses and yoghurts, Doddington Dairy collaborate with other local producers and brands synonymous with the region; the most famous being Newcastle Brown Ale as well as Heather Honey Ice Cream, using Honey from The Chainbridge Honey Farm near Berwick, and Alnwick Rum Truffle Ice Cream.

Doddington Dairy is a progressive company and the Maxwell family work very hard to extend and improve their products. They don’t stand still and are always looking for new and innovative ideas to increase the range of both ice cream and cheese. They were the very first company in the UK to produce a beer ice cream, Newcastle Brown Ale ice cream. This took the media and the people of the North East by storm, so much so that it was even enjoyed by Jonathon Ross on BBC Radio 2. Continuing on their passion and pride for the North East, three years ago, to commemorate one of the North East’s greatest heroes, Grace Darling, Doddington launched their first Blue Cheese – Darling Blue. The team also celebrated the Sage Gateshead’s 10th anniversary and their tenth year of producing their own speciality labels for the award-winning music venue, they celebrated with a bespoke Strawberry and Champagne ice cream.

Today, alongside their collection of six cheeses and extensive range of luxury ice creams, Doddington also produce a range of yoghurts. Both plain and with fruity bottoms, the price remain as they did when the launched. They to, are handmade on the farm and use only the finest natural ingredients.

Doddington Dairy’s quality products have gained both regional and national recognition on many occasions. They have quite literally scooped dozens of awards. Their cheeses and ice creams have been tasted and enjoyed by countless celebrities, politicians, and members of the royal family. However, there has been one award which really stood out, the BBC Radio 4’s Food Producer of the Year, this was awarded for both the company’s exceptional quality products along with their commitment to their tremendous team of staff and the local community. As the only company in the North East ever to have scooped this accolade, it was quite literally the topping on the cone!

Looking to the future, Doddington aims to capitalise on the trend for online purchasing and are about to launch an ecommerce site to sell and promote their cheeses and cheese hampers.

Talking about the challenges the farming industry faces in the future, Neill said: “We face the biggest overhaul in the rural economy in 45 years; farm policy is being dictated by farm policy makers who have little or no understating of the rural business and life. As dairy farmers in England’s most Northern corners, and with fluctuating milk prices, we currently have little to be positive about. We are not in a renowned UK dairy farming area, so for us as a company producing both milk and dairy products, it is key that we work closely with our neighbouring dairy farmers to ensure the long–term future and sustainability of our enterprises”, says Neill.

David Hume, Senior Farm Business Consultant, says, “At George F. White, we understand the challenges and uncertainty that farmers and rural business owners face, whether that be with Brexit, general government policies and even the weather. We make sure to set time aside to research, attend conferences and we feed that information back to our clients. It is extremely important to us that we keep our clients up to date.”

Doddington cheese is available throughout the UK. The original cheese, Doddington, is one of the most popular for customers of ‘speciality cheese’ in London’s Neal’s Yard. The ice creams are available in delicatessens, speciality food shops, attractions and theatres across the North of England and Scotland. Yoghurts, still very much in their infancy, are also widely available across the North East.

For anyone who really wants to live and breathe the true taste of Doddington, a visit to their iconic Milk Bar (on Route A697) at Wooler is a must. What better way to enjoy a trip out than to have the finest of Doddington cheese in a cheese scone, followed by a cone of delight in a Doddington Dairy ice cream?

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Nurturing Talent in The Rural Sector

At land, property and business consultancy George F. White, investing in our people is our main priority. By providing our team with the right learning environment, mentoring, training and tools, we are able to give the best support to clients.

We provide a myriad of services to clients in the rural sector, ranging from farming and agricultural services to planning and development and deal with issues including grants and subsidies, succession planning and legislation assistance.

Rural

Investing in the team, and embedding key qualities such as innovation, inspiration, honesty and commitment into the very core of the business is vital. Nurturing young, fresh talent in the rural sector is crucial to this, which is why George F. White provides graduate and apprenticeship opportunities, with a structured career development plan, so that we can help cultivate the future rural workforce, to support clients as best we can.

Rural surveyor Adeline Jones is a prime example of George F. White’s focus on developing young talent. Adeline has spent most of her life in agriculture as her family holds a long tradition in farming. From this, she’s developed an appreciation of the challenges of managing a farm enterprise and issues faced by a rural community. Following school, she worked on a farm during a gap year before deciding to take an undergraduate course in BSc (Hons) Rural Enterprise and Land Management at Harper Adams University. Adeline’s course involved a placement year which she undertook at George F. White, as an undergraduate rural surveyor, which later helped her secure a graduate position within the firm.

Not only did the placement and graduate position provide vital experience of working with real clients, facing real issues and providing solutions to help clients overcome specific rural business challenges, Adeline was also able to secure the professional knowledge, and qualifications, she needed by joining us. To sit the necessary exams, you need at least two years’ experience at an appropriate business, which Adeline achieved through her placement year and following her university completion. Adeline has been with us for two and a half years now and has passed her Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) and Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV) exams which means she is a fully qualified chartered surveyor and a Fellow of the Association of Agricultural Valuers.

Many members of the George F. White team have taken a similar path to Adeline. Entry level employment is something we strongly believe in, and a key ethical value. Indeed, over the past year alone, the Alnwick office has been home to three apprentices and an APC student. We are extremely proud to have a 100% APC pass rate over the past decade, where we have supported 23 successful APC graduates.

Demonstrating our commitment to our people is reflected in the Employer of the Year award that we were thrilled to win at the recent Northumberland Business Awards. Mentoring young, ambitious people that want to come into the industry is so important to us and helping them to gain the qualifications and experience they need to progress their careers is the ultimate goal.

Due to our consistent growth, we’re actively recruiting, creating nine new roles across the business. Our ability to grow our workforce is all down to putting our people at the centre of our ethos, and empowering skilled and nurtured people to thrive at George F. White.

For more information about the current career opportunities at George F. White, please contact Debbie Charlton on careers@georgefwhite.co.uk

The importance of cash flow for business resilience

Louis Fell, Partner at George F. White, discusses the importance of cash flow for business resilience.

“Across Yorkshire, we have such a diverse range of rural businesses, many of which have developed on the back of their particular soil type or the land and/or property asset available to them. Funding is often key in order to grow and expand, and a sound understanding of the business and management is a fundamental factor when looking at those successful rural businesses.

Cash flow

Agriculture is generally heavily dependent on working capital; sowing a grain to sale could be upwards of 12 months and it’s not surprising to see OSR sown before harvesting the previous year’s OSR crop for instance. Take suckler cows, the time and cost involved in buying a heifer and taking her through to calving, and then selling in the fat market, is extremely long and high cost. You have to be certain that the return warrants such risk and capital outlay.

Those businesses that are successful are able to manage their cash flow accordingly. They know what working capital they need and what funds will be available in the future months and years in order to fund further expansion and growth. I’m not saying that everyone needs cash flows, some just don’t want to, but for me, they are a great tool in understanding what funds are available in the future. They help you understand, at an early stage, the implications of any blips (say a price drop of 10 per cent or a delay in BPS by four months), and can help you make informed decisions on expansion and growth. There are many instances where people have taken land under FBT’s but have simply run out of cash to farm it, forcing major restructuring.

Cash flows are also an important tool in bringing the banks along with you. Bankers are generally happy when they see there is management of cash flow; good accounts are also important, but having a handle on the flow of funds in the future is a key to making that relationship work, and in most circumstances, enable you to access more funding.

Another key message at present from George F. White is to make use of EU funding whilst it’s still around. You may have seen a sudden spate of grants being made available such as, the new Countryside Productivity Grant, Forestry Grants, LEADER, Rural Growth Programme etc. all of which are seeking to get the money spent before it disappears. They are a great way to help push forward a project or to grow and expand your business and provide help with the capital cost; yes, sometimes the paperwork and application process is a hassle, but if it contributes 40 per cent towards the capital and gets it off the ground it’s definitely worth the effort and time delay. We advise to forward plan, as firstly the process can take up to six months and secondly to work out the working capital requirement.”

For more information regarding cash flows and business management, call Louis Fell on 07966 924345 or louisfell@georgefwhite.co.uk.

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