'Business as usual' as Co-op takes over

THE Co-op has recently expanded its business interest in the province.

Formerly operating as the Humansdorp Co-op, The Co-op now serves the farming needs of the Tsitsikamma area, Fish River Valley, Gamtoos Valley, Uitenhage, Humansdorp, Kareedouw and, more recently, the Sundays River Valley.

The Co-op's general manager: finance and administration, Willie Goussard, said the company had always wanted to expand its footprint into the Sundays River Valley, especially in the irrigation industry, which is a growth area in the region.

The Co-op had been in negotiations for more than 18 months with EP Irrigation, and after the company filed for business rescue in November last year, a transaction between The Co-op and EP Irrigation was concluded earlier this month.

Goussard said the transaction with EP Irrigation, which was established in 1990 in the Sundays River Valley, had several advantages in terms of EP Irrigation's shops staying operational in Kirkwood and Port Elizabeth and more than 20 EP Irrigation staffers keeping their employment.

"The economy of the town will benefit from this merger and we will be able to provide a better service for the farmers. Despite the axe of citrus black spot hanging over the industry, we are positive about the long-term sustainability of the industry."

One of the EP Irrigation directors, Graham Delmar, welcomed the buy-over by The Co-op and said the joint venture would do more irrigation business as it would be able to expand into other areas already covered by The Co-op.

"We already share the same client base and it is business as usual at our shops in Kirkwood and Port Elizabeth, with just the name that has changed to The Co-op [Die Kooperasie]. We still design, install and maintain all types of irrigation systems," Delmar said.

Quinton Pattinson from Corporate Project Management (CPM) acted as the business rescue practitioner and said that from the official transaction last month, the business rescue would take about three months to complete.