The IFA have labelled the closure of Glanbia agri-stores in South Kilkenny this week as ‘madness’ while Glanbia has described the decision as indicative of ‘the changing face of farming’.

Kilkenny IFA Chairman John Bryan (pictured) has criticised Glanbia’s decision to close the stores in Carrigeen, Mullinavat and Loughcullen along with Muckalee in the north of the county.

“Glanbia’s decision to close these stores is madness in a time when farmers’ costs have spiralled out of control,” he said.

“This is on top of below cost of production sheep, beef and milk prices. It is totally against the co-op ethos that Glanbia was founded on.”

For its part, Glanbia told The Munster Express that the closures, which will lead to “between 10 and 12 redundancies”, would consolidate its business in South Kilkenny, where five stores will still operate.

“This is regrettable but inevitable in today’s environment where more and more farmers are buying directly from the factory and not going to retail branches,” said a Glanbia spokesperson.

“The IFA want to have everything – they want keen pricing – which means Glanbia Agribusiness must be competitive – and now they say they also want Glanbia to maintain a high cost base, by keeping branches open that we don’t need. This is not logical.”  

Speaking at a meeting of 300 Glanbia customers in Bigwood on Monday evening, John Bryan said that Glanbia were “setting new levels of corporate greed”.

He added: “It makes no sense closing the Loughcullen branch, which has profits of €150,000 and is one of Glanbia’s most profitable branches. Management need to re-consider their decision to close profitable agri-stores in their store network.”

Between now and September, Glanbia will close 11 of its 60 Agribusiness branches, while a new Country Life store will be opened in Castlecomer come the autumn.

Other branches for the axe include Grange in Waterford, Grangemockler and Ballingarry in Tipperary and Foulkmills in Wexford.  

“With 60 branches we have a very high cost base,” according to Glanbia Agribusiness CEO Colm Eustace.

“Our farmer customers are continuing to address their costs and in order for us to remain relevant to them and to offer competitive pricing, we must drive down our cost base too…

“We recognise that the branches are part of the legacy of the Group and have made a strong contribution locally. We are also very mindful of our committed management, staff and our loyal customers who have supported the branches over the years and are working closely with all those impacted.”

Mr Eustace said the rationalisation programme’s main objective was to ensure Glanbia’s ongoing competitiveness and relevance to its customer base.

“We will continue to strive to add value to this customer base through offering a range of products as well technical and nutritional guidance that will add value to our customers business.”