The ANM Group is celebrating 25 years at its agricultural and community hub at Thainstone Centre with a charity dinner, dance and auction tonight in aid of Clan Cancer Support.
Over the last year, the group has been celebrating this milestone by supporting its charity of the year. The anniversary celebration, with 450 guests, will round up a year of fundraising efforts for Clan by staff and supporters at ANM.
Chief executive Pat Machray said: “The Thainstone Centre has diversified over the last 25 years and now represents more than just the livestock market with various divisions under the ANM Group umbrella calling it home.
“We are delighted to celebrate this tremendous milestone by supporting a charity voted for by our staff. I am overwhelmed at how much has been raised over the course of the year – they have done a tremendous job.”
Thainstone Centre first opened its doors on the January 3, 1990, as one of the largest livestock markets in Europe and has since become a diverse agricultural base in the north-east, attracting buyers and sellers from all corners of the UK.
More than 90,000 cattle and 300,000 sheep are sold through the centre’s rings every year leading to an annual turnover of some £110million. It serves farmers from throughout the north, north-east and islands of Scotland as well as the wider public in Aberdeenshire.
In the past, the ANM Group had many livestock marts throughout the north-east, however during the 1980s the group looked to centralise its trade and with John Lind appointed as its first chief executive in 1984 change was in the offing.
The years to follow saw the closure of several of the group’s marts and the land sold off for development, paving the way for the financing of the new centre.
Livestock trade still remains the group’s core business, however in the past 25 years there has been definite change in the way the group functions and the range of facilities at Thainstone today represent this.
The two most extreme catalysts for change in the Scottish agricultural world and ANM Group were the BSE and foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks of 1996 and 2001 respectively.
The BSE crisis struck first, impacting on the agricultural sector in the UK with a nation-wide export ban on British beef. Five years later, foot-and-mouth disease hit and new standstill regulations were implemented preventing the movement of livestock.
Marts throughout the UK were closed and, although there was no trace of foot and mouth in the north-east, Thainstone was no exception and resulted in closure for several months.
The ANM Group reacted to this situation through the implementation of video auction sales. The result was Thainstone witnessing its largest one-day sale to date on May 4, 2001, when 4,082 store cattle changed hands through the video auctions. With foot and mouth brought under relative control in October 2001, the ANM Group could finally get back to using Thainstone for its original purpose.
Over the years, the group has evolved into five divisions: Aberdeen & Northern Marts; Aberdeen & Northern Estates; Thainstone Specialist Auctions; Thainstone Events and Highland Cuisine; and Maverston Estate and Golf Course.
These changes have been mirrored by the expansion of the centre itself to accommodate a flexible and adaptable event venue through Thainstone Exchange, Porterhouse restaurant, a shop front for Aberdeen & Northern Estates and a new vehicle and furniture hall.
ANM Group chairman John McIntosh said: “This diversification can be seen in the wide range of events held at Thainstone over the last few years including the Taste of Grampian, large machinery and implements sales, weddings, conferences, cinema and Sunday markets as well as the various agricultural shows and sales throughout the year, all organised or hosted by the divisions here at ANM.”
The group said it planned to further develop the Thainstone site in the future, with an aim of pushing Thainstone “further into the forefront of Scottish agriculture”.