A north-east animal feed business has become a purveyor of high end country fashions to customers in the south of England since it launched its retail website.
Norvite Animal Nutrition launched its farm and country website offering a range of goods including Schoffel tweed coats and Arriat and Dubarry country boots just last year.
Edward Smith, managing director of Norvite, admits he was “surprised” to have attracted customers outside of the north-east region where the firm operates three retail stores and three manufacturing sites.
He said: “We really built it primarily to drive footfall into our stores.
“But what has actually happened is we have been receiving orders mainly from the south of England – from London, Cheltenham and Kent and all over the place, which is really quite exciting.
“It demonstrates the power of the internet, even in our business.
“The things we sell are at the higher end of the market in terms of equestrian and country wear. We hope for great things from that.”
The internet boost comes as the firm revealed its sales and profits were healthy despite a “particularly tough” year for the farming industry.
Mr Smith said: “This is probably three years in a row now of a very, very difficult market in farming.
“Farmers are producing cereals and meat for less than the cost of production.
“Added to which, there was a six or seven months delay in single farm payments this year.”
He said that the Insch-based firm, which employs 73 members of staff, has been “peddling even more furiously to stand still” as it revealed increases in turnover and profit in its most recent financial year.
The firm’s new oilseed crushing plant at Oldmeldrum and strong sales at its retail outlets, including one at Deeside Activity Park, underpinned a 3% increase in turnover to £12.5million and a 16% rise in pre-tax profits to £203,164 in the year ended May 2016.
The company opened the £600,000 cold press next to its feed blending site in 2015. The factory processes locally-sourced oilseed rape, producing around 2,600 tonnes of protein-rich meal and 1.288million litres of oil for animal feed.
Mr Smith, who led a management buyout of the business in 2005, said: “We continue to invest and we are focused on building a robust and sustainable business.
“One of the things that helped us is we built a new oil seed crushing plant.
“That was our first year of running that business so that contributed.
“We are peddling even more furiously to stand still.”
He added: “The retail business as well – not only has the farming market been difficult but clearly the oil industry is going to have an effect on everything in Aberdeenshire.
“We think we have withstood the downturn in the oil industry quite well with a pleasing growth in our retail business in the last year.”