Fendt features strongly at Atkins open day in Birr

Fendt features strongly at Atkins open day in Birr

Atkins was established in Cork in 1878 and has long served the area, starting first as a hardware shop, and then moving into agricultural machinery.

Today it is best known in Cork for the Kubota dealership and extensive range of machines and tools for landscape and estate maintenance.

This is a thriving business and it was added to in 2017 with the establishment of a new branch at Birr, Co. Offaly.

Fendt tractor at Atkins Birr
There was little fear of not noticing the main tractor brand of Atkins at its Birr branch open day

Recently the company held an open day at this location at which it holds a Fendt dealership as the main franchise.

It also acts as an importer for the Bogballe fertiliser spreader range, and it is here that the machines are prepared and distributed.

Fendt in Ireland

It wasn’t so many years ago that Fendt was considered a little too exotic for Ireland by many. That situation is no longer prevalent according to Trevor Richardson, branch manager at Birr.

Andrew richardson and Mark Wolfe
Trevor Richardson with Mark Wolfe, managing director of Atkins

While he concedes that Fendt is not the cheapest on the market, he contends that it is as relevant to Ireland as anywhere else.

He also points out that the brand is selling well as farmers, and more particularly, contractors, come to realise the overall value rather than just judge it on the price tag alone.

Fendt, he notes, now makes a sizeable contribution to Atkins’ total turnover, with both tractors and implements being in greater demand across the board.

Fendt implements same cost whether red or green
AGCO implements are the same price irrespective of whether they are in red or green according to Atkins

Despite the assumption that customers might be paying a premium for having the Fendt name on an implement, Trevor is adamant that is not the case.

AGCO charges the same for a mower, irrespective of whether it is in Fendt green or Massey Ferguson red, he said.

Any difference between prices quoted at dealer level is likely to be a reflection of offers on trade-ins or the desire of a dealer to obtain a sale, which are the dynamics driving any open market.

Granting a new lease of life

One of the stronger selling points of Fendts is the secondhand value of the tractors.

Trevor points out that they can fetch a significant premium over other brands, with demand for them being strong in all power segments; this is not always the case with marques he notes.

Indeed, so strong is the demand for used examples, that Atkins has set up a refurbishment workshop in Birr dedicated solely to refreshing Fendt tractors.

Reconditioned Fendt at Atkins of Birr
This fully reconditioned Fendt 826 has a factory refurbished engine and an asking price of €90,000+VAT

All the tractors passing through are given a thorough going over with the two major items, engine and transmission, coming under particular scrutiny.

It is not uncommon for engines to be replaced with factory refurbished units and, when completed, they are sold with a 12-month warranty.

The demand for these reconditioned machines is strong Trevor claims, and they don’t hang around on the forecourt for long. Currently they have a completed Fendt 8260 available for €90,000+VAT, which is less than half the price of a new one, or a new mainline tractor of half the power.

Atkins is moving into combines

Up until last season, Atkins had not got involved with combine harvesters but that has changed with the arrival of a Fendt 5255 five walker machine.

This is aimed squarely at the smaller, or non specialist, grower for whom being able to cut 35-40ac a day is quite sufficient.

fendt combine harvester
On demonstration for the first time in Ireland the Fendt 5255 attracted a lot of attention

The machine was on demo for the harvest and is now attracting genuine interest from those who saw it. Trevor believes it will be leaving the yard in the not too distant future.

Bogballe spreaders

Named after the village in Denmark where the Bogballe company was formed, the spreaders are, according to Trevor, among the most accurate on the market.

Bogballe spreader at Birr, Co Offaly
Atkins is the sole importer of Bogballe into Ireland and is both wholesaler and retailer of the brand

With the rapidly increasing price of fertiliser, the precise placement of these inputs is becoming of ever greater interest to farmers.

The sort of digital technology which has been available in tractors for years is now being required of the implements as well, he believes, as he sees the growing sales of better equipped models.

Other marques

Another big name Atkins’ stock is Pottinger, a company never shy of promoting its equipment.

Pottinger rake
With a working width of up to 14m, the Pottinger 1403C is a serious piece of equipment for contractors.

Obviously there is some overlap in machine type with other makes they deal with, but Mark Wolfe, managing director of Atkins, is adamant that despite the poorly concealed desire of certain full line manufactures to see dealers drop competing brands, he remains committed to the ideal of Atkins retaining the freedom to sell whatever it chooses to.

Bredal is another successful line for the company which appears somewhat immune to the relationship between price and demand.

Once again it is the accuracy of application which is seen as its strongest feature, and for which there is a growing demand.

Bradel twin disc fertiliser spreader.
Multivane discs on the Bredal trailed spreaders are said to enhance the accuracy of spreading

For this past season, Trevor clearly sees the demand for higher specification machines being driven by the availability of grants.

Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS) is having a significant influence on the type, quality and quantity of machinery being sold, a view that is shared widely in the trade.

A company with plans

Both men are optimistic about the future of the company. Trevor is putting his considerable enthusiasm and knowledge behind the new ventures of combine sales and tractor reconditioning.

Meanwhile, Mark is looking forward to a regrouping of the business as the site at Watergrasshill, Co. Cork, is brought into play. There is a marked buoyancy in their outlook which could be easily ascribed to the healthy trading conditions of the past year.

However, the plans for the future are not reliant upon present turnover, but are in addition to the current position. As one of the most senior dealers in the country, already, Atkins looks to be set for many more years in business.

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