MVF acquires Lillico Attlee merchant business

Wm Lillico & Son has sold its Lillico Attlee Agricultural Merchants division to Cox & Robinson Agriculture, which is a subsidiary of Mole Valley Farmers (MVF).

The Dorking, Surrey-based Wm Lillico group will retain its retail stores, grain trading operation and equestrian feeds activities. Lillico Attlee supplies a wide range of agricultural products from feeds, fertilisers and seeds to mineral supplements and animal health products, backed up with advice and technical support from its experienced staff. 

The two businesses have worked together for some time, with Lillico retailing MVF-manufactured feeds and minerals, so the move is seen as a natural evolution. It adds around £9 million of annual sales to MVF revenues, with some 20,000 tonnes of feed volume and 8-9,000 tonnes of fertilisers. The acquisition will also allow MVF to sell more of its products in the south east region, where it already has a presence through its SCATS chain of stores. 

MVF has opted to run the new volume under the Cox & Robinson direct-to-farm brand to differentiate it from its Mole Valley retail operations, and envisages the Lillico Atlee brand being phased out over time.     

“The sale of the business will allow Lillico to focus on the Retail Country Stores in Aylesford and Dorking, the Lillico Grain Trading business and its equestrian business through Saracen Horse Feeds,” says Patrick Walker, managing director of Wm Lillico & Son. “The directors believe that these areas of the business hold the most potential for long term growth and continued prosperity for the Lillico Group. 

“We recognised the need to integrate our agricultural interests into a business that operates with similar values and a strong agricultural ethos that is focussed on the needs of our farming customer,” he continues. “These were major considerations when making our decision. The changes will support longer term sustainability for our customers and staff, bringing greater scale, investment and focus to the current portfolio of products.” 

For Mole Valley Farmers, commercial director Keith Ockenden adds: “We have worked with the agricultural business of Lillico Attlee for some years, supplying feed from our production sites in Calne and Dorchester. We are delighted to have the opportunity to acquire the business and look forward to investing in developing products and services further through our subsidiary business, Cox & Robinson Agriculture.” 

J&W Atlee was established in 1788 to supply feeds and early fertilisers from Dorking, and numbered post-war prime minister Clement Atlee amongst its family members. In 1973, the business was acquired by Wm Lillico of Aylesford in Kent, itself established in 1840. 

MVF acquired the Cox and Robinson brand in October 2011. The business can trace its history back to 1760 in supplying animal medicines from premises in Stony Stratford, Buckinghamshire. It now operates from two sites in Buckingham and Evercreech.