Main man who has never lost his love of livestock
Mole Valley Farmers is one of the best known businesses in the south west – and not just among the farming community. Nick Powell reveals the route he took to become manager of the Frome branch, this year’s generous sponsor of the Cattle Marquee
Mole Valley has been the main sponsor of the cattle section at Frome Show for several years. How important is the show to you?
Livestock farmers are our core customers and that’s why we became sponsors of the cattle — we’d actually been at the show for a long time before that. However, the show also gives us a great opportunity to meet our other customers too, whether they are in agriculture or not.
The cattle section has grown significantly over the last few years, attracting entries from across the south and west of England. You must be delighted at the extra publicity you’ve gained as a result?
Frome now has one of the biggest one-day cattle competitions in the country and it’s a great opportunity for us to promote the services we offer. It’s also good publicity for Mole Valley when I’m in the show ring to present some of the prizes and when I’m joined by my nutritional specialist colleague Alex Taylor.
Does the company sponsor any other shows?
We’re also at the Royal Cornwall and Devon County, but they’re three-day events and in the west of our region. Frome’s just a one-day show, but it’s just as important to us as it’s the only one in the east we support in this way.
How important are shows like Frome to the farming community?
It’s not just a show for the farmers themselves, although of course there’s so much for farmers to see, to check out and to be inspired by. It’s also somewhere the whole family can come to enjoy a great day out.
Mole Valley already stocks a fantastic range of products, from clothes to chicken feed, gates to garden tools and horse bedding to household linen. Are there any plans for expanding that range – or even the store?
The company is relatively young and is still evolving. However, we already own stores right across the south of England and up the east of the country, almost as far north as the Scottish border. Here in Frome we’ve no plans to expand the buildings themselves, but our product offer is constantly being updated. Even though we already carry more than 22,000 stock lines we’re always looking for new opportunities and for new product and services to offer, especially in niche categories. And of course those stock lines aren’t just targeted at the farming community – we’re open to the general public too.
Tell us about yourself
I started my career working on an estate in Wiltshire, milking cows, shepherding and shearing sheep, which gave me a good grounding in the industry and now helps me to understand the needs of farmers. I moved into retail just after Mole Valley Farmers took over what was Toop’s store at Saxonvale, where the Lidl store is now, and I’ve worked my way up from being a sales assistant. I became manager here 15 years ago, but I’ve still retained my passion for and interest in livestock.
The store is always busy but we imagine you’re still able to get away to visit the show. What is your favourite show destination — apart from the Livestock Village and the cattle of course?
Actually I don’t have time to see the rest of the show. The Livestock Village is always busy and there are so many people there that I want to talk to and so much I want to see that it’s impossible to go any further. Even if I did leave the Village I probably wouldn’t get very far because I’d keep running into people I know. If I could be teleported across the showground, I’d go straight to the Cheese Pavilion.
How do you think the show has changed in the last few years?
It’s certainly grown; there are more stands and stalls, more people, both visitors and exhibitors, and more amenities. It’s so very well organised now.
Any advice to anyone who’s never visited the show or who hasn’t been for a while?
Just get down there. There’s something there for everyone – and do make sure that you’re there when the Grand Parade takes place and the livestock line up in the Main Ring. It’s worth going just for that.