Exciting times ahead for Wigton auction mart

The latest Marts the Heart: Standing the Test of Time series supported by Shearwell Data and the Livestock Auctioneers Association (LAA) shows how a move to a greenfield site has enabled Hopes Auction Company to prosper and grow.

clock • 5 min read
Exciting times ahead for Wigton auction mart

The latest Marts the Heart: Standing the Test of Time series supported by Shearwell Data and the Livestock Auctioneers Association (LAA) shows how a move to a greenfield site has enabled Hopes Auction Company to prosper and grow.

Hopes Auction Company, Wigton, is celebrating 10 years of trading at its purpose built site following a move from the town centre.

Since the move to Syke Road, on the outskirts of the town, the 120-year-old company, which is owned by mainly farmer and local business shareholders and run by a board of directors, has in spite of plenty of challenges in the sector, continued to go from strength to strength.

Mart manager and senior auctioneer David Bowman says: Our aim is to provide the best possible service for our customers and this is built on developing long term trusted relationships.

We want to achieve the best price for our sellers, but also want stock to go on and do well for the buyers.

As with many marts, we have seen a reduction in prime cattle numbers with some clients opting to sell strong forward stores.

In recent years we have acquired a lot of new clients. Throughput and turnover has increased, but so have costs, for both ourselves and our customers.

We are constantly adapting to customers needs. Over the years there has been a change in the type of livestock we are selling.

There a quite a few markets in this area, so farmers do tend to be more market orientated than they might be in other areas of the country and they have plenty of choice as to where to take different types of stock.

We are now selling a lot more store cattle than we once did, drawing buyers from all over the country, but again the type of cattle we sell is changing.

People are keeping less traditional type suckler cows and there is a move towards more dairy bred types to produce big growy store cattle which are very much in demand.

This has allowed farmers to sell the suckler cow and source dairy beef stirks to finish or sell on as stores, which means they can keep more numbers with less risk and cost.

Prime sheep numbers have remained constant and the mart is well known for the quality of its finished sheep.

Mr Bowman says: Alongside the numbers of top end lambs for which Wigton has its reputation, a greater number of commercial sheep are well sold each week and growing market share across the spectrum is key to continued success.

We have a good mix of buyers and wholesalers and we are fortunate in that Wigton itself has good butchers who support and buy stock out of the market each week.

There are plenty of challenges, not least managing debt, which is nothing new, but I am optimistic for the future of auction marts.

Covid-19 was a difficult time, although 2020 did reinforce the value of markets and the fact that farmers were able to trust us to sell their stock to full advantage without them being there.

It is important we encourage the younger generation to continue to use auction marts. Everyone is short of time and this means we have also had to become much more tech savy and now use social media to advertise sales and for reports, as well as the traditional methods.

We send out a newsletter four times a year, rather than just printing a sales dairy at the beginning of the year. It is all about ongoing communication with our customers.

The business is not just about selling livestock and the land agency side, which is headed up by Craig Brough, is rapidly expanding.

He says: The two sides of the business work well together. David might be on a farm to discuss livestock and be asked about other aspects such as grants, stewardship schemes or farm sales and he can refer them to me. They can also come into the office when they are visiting the mart.

Again, it is all about building relationships and offering a service and we are now conducting more farm sales, as well as lettings, property sales and general land agency work.

Aside from livestock, a key attraction at the market is the caf, operated by Lisa Hodgson, who also caters for functions such as birthdays, weddings and christenings there.

Since the closure of Newton Rigg College, the facilities are also being used by students from Kendal College to avoid them having to travel to Kendal.

As part of the anniversary celebrations the market recently held an open day which attracted more than 2000 people and 50 plus trade and craft stalls and local food producers, as well as hosting a stock judging competition.

While this might not become an annual event, the aim is to make more use of the market site in the future. It is already home to a number of associated businesses, such as an agricultural merchant and an insurance firm and there are plans in place to develop the site further.

Mr Brough says: We are ready to start the next stage of investment in the site which will be the building of a number of commercial units and small offices and probably a dedicated training/function facility. Several companies have already expressed an interest in moving here.

It is an exciting time for us and should enable us to continue to develop and grow the business to ensure a sustainable future.

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Hopes Auction Mart

  • Established in 1897 by a group of local men led by William Hope who became managing director and chairman for 25 years.
  • Sale days are Tuesday for primestock and Thursdays for calves, store and breeding sheep and dairy with store and OTM cattle on alternate weeks.
  • Additional special sales throughout the year.
  • Auctioneers David Bowman and David Fearon
  • The land agency department managed by Craig Brough with assistance from Joanne Ridley offers a full range of services.

DAIRY CATTLE FOR SALE

DAIRY CATTLE FOR SALE

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Farm-to-Farm-sales / DAIRY CATTLE FOR SALE AND WANTED

Farm-to-Farm-sales / DAIRY CATTLE FOR SALE

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New & Used Bulk Milk Tanks

New & Used Bulk Milk Tanks

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