The Darlington Farmers Auction Mart (DFAM) is set to relocate to new purpose-built auction premises with the help of a seven-figure funding package from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.
The market, which has occupied the same site on Clifton Road since its establishment in 1887, will use the funds to begin building its new 6,160 square meter premises next month.
The new facility – situated next to the A68 – will vastly increase accessibility for agricultural vehicles, which previously had to enter Darlington town centre to load and unload goods, adding a significant amount of time to their journey.
DFAM is now anticipating the volume of sales to rise by an estimated 10-15% and will be looking to hire up to five new members of staff to meet demand.
The new auction market will include space for 1000 cattle and 3000 sheep. Eleven business units will also be available for hire, and the building will include a restaurant for visitors and staff.
DFAM, one of the UK’s largest dedicated agricultural auction markets, currently hosts more than 300 visitors a week and handles more than £46m in sales every year.
Richard Heseltine, Finance Director, Darlington Farmers Auction Mart, said: “Our move out of Darlington has been five years in the making and there’s local excitement that it’s finally happening.
“As the town has expanded and livestock wagons have grown larger, our original premises have become increasingly difficult to access.
“When I joined the business, one of the first moves that I made was bringing the team at Lloyds Bank on board to support us in finding a solution. The financial support and guidance that we received from them, combined with funds raised from the sale of our development land at Neasham Road, has made this essential relocation finally possible.
“In addition to constructing our new state-of-the art market building, we’ll also be building a new roundabout to connect the site to the A68 and are currently seeking approval to build a business park next door to provide a hub for local agricultural businesses. This means farmers and traders will gain easier access to their customers and suppliers thanks to our enhanced connectivity to Yorkshire, the North East, and beyond.”
Felicity Hails, Relationship Director, Agriculture, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Darlington Farmers Auction Mart has been a keystone in the local agricultural economy for well over a century.
“Helping local firms like DFAM manage risk and take business critical steps like relocation is just one part of our commitment to helping Britain prosper. Since 2011, we’ve increased our lending to SMEs like DFAM by 31%, while the market has contracted by 11%.
“In addition to term loans, we also offer a range of specialist packages tailored for businesses across the agricultural sector. This includes asset finance and hire purchase solutions to help acquire new equipment such as combines and livestock transport, as well as tools to help manage working capital throughout the year. I’m looking forward to seeing DFAM flourish as it completes its move to its new facility, and as it grows we’ll be with them every step of the way.”