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TAS Country : March 17th 2011
14 Tasmanian Country Friday, March 18, 2011 The Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre was the venue for this year's exciting CRT National Conference which showcased the best of the industry's agricultural suppliers and brought together more than 900 CRT retailers, suppliers and staff from across Australia. The 2011 conference's theme, Success -- Time to Shine, reflected the group's successful year which saw record membership growth and the introduction of a range of initiatives designed to improve services for CRT retailers and their customers. Success -- Time to Shine also set the tone for one of CRT's most successful conferences with an outstanding line-up of keynote speakers including Rod McGeoch AM, Dr Jonathon Welch AM and Layne Beachley, who reflected on the paths that led to their individual successes during a panel forum chaired by reporter, Mike Munro. A conference highlight was a performance by the Choir of Hope and Inspiration (formerly the Choir of Hard Knocks) which inspired all those who witnessed their heartfelt performance. In his opening address to delegates at the CRT National Conference in Melbourne, Richard England, Chairman, Ruralco Holdings Limited, said despite difficult trading conditions in key markets, variable but improving rainfall and tight rural credit, Ruralco's result for the 2010 financial year was a good one. "Our net profit after tax for the year was $12.1m, an increase of 43% over the previous year. We maintained our focus on a strong balance sheet and working capital management. Gearing is down to 26.3% from 33.8% a year ago and we now have the best balance sheet in the sector," Mr England said. Ruralco was also able to grow and expand the business with the addition of new business locations in South Australia, Western Australia, New South Wales and Queensland. "We entered new business sectors of grain marketing, water solutions and finance broking and our NAB Financial Services alliance is meeting its targets and gaining momentum." Mr England said the Ruralco Board and management continued to see the group as the integrator of choice in Australian agribusiness, broadening the company's operating platform on a geographic and sectoral basis by partnering with quality businesses and people. "We seek to add new products and activities throughout this expanded operating platform and our investment in grain marketing through Agfarm is an example of this. We are continuing to capture the benefits of one back office and provide the economies of scale to our regional businesses." "We underpin these strategies by fostering a culture of innovation, customer focus and operational excellence throughout the group -- inherent characteristics of independent, local businesses." Reflecting on the devastation caused by the recent floods in Queensland and northern New South Wales, Mr England said Ruralco was inextricably linked with affected communities and the group had moved to give assistance wherever possible. "Ruralco strengthened its alliance with the Aussie Helpers Children's Fund by donating $50,000 to Aussie Helpers to finance the work of professional counsellors in devastated communities." 2011 CRT Conference is a shining success Ruralco success comes from expanded operating platform CRT General Manager, Greg O'Neil, said the strong foundations on which CRT was built had contributed to its success and strong position in the market. He said the group would consolidate on its progress over the past twelve months and continue to offer real benefits to its retailers and customers. "CRT offers progressive, entrepreneurial people great opportunities. It's a fantastic vehicle for retailers of rural merchandise as they gain access to our extensive supplier network, centralised administration, marketing programs, competitive p r i c i n g ,r e b a t em a n a g e m e n ta n d warehousing." The group's expanding national footprint had been strengthened by the addition of another 9 new members since the start of the new financial year in October and, according to Mr O'Neil, such strong growth would deliver benefits to the group as a whole, its retailers and customers. "It's a challenge to ensure that whilst we're growing our retailing base, we remain focused on meeting the needs of our existing businesses." "We have a massive service obligation to our retailers and, similarly, their obligation to our group is just as important. With our collective focus on this objective, we can only succeed and, together, continue to build a strong and dynamic organisation," he said. M rO ' N e i ls a i dt h e r ew e r e great opportunities for CRT retailers interested in providing finance products and solutions for their customers. CRT's parent company, Ruralco Holdings Limited, offered an extensive range of finance products through their Financial Services division. Whilst 2010 had been a great year, Mr O'Neil believed the group could look forward to an even better 2011. "Together with our valued retailers and suppliers, we look forward to building on our past successes and creating new benchmarks for rural retailing standards and success Our aim is to help our Local Blokes partner more with their clients through the provision of more value-added services," he said. CRT offers great opportunities for rural retailers Ruralco Finance offers great finance choices to borrowers Michael Cullinan, Ruralco's General Manager -- Financial Services, said developments within the group's Financial Services division offered benefits to all. "Ruralco Finance is a broker in its own right. We hold an Australian Credit Licence and can provide a comprehensive offering of rural, commercial and personal loans. We are supported by over 25 key lending institutions offering over 500 products across commercial, asset and consumer loans." "We offer choice our competitors can't match. We're mortgage managers and we're focused on maintaining long- term relationships with our clients. Our lender panel allows us to support clients no matter what financial solution they are looking for." "In reality, if it can be financed, Ruralco Finance can place it, whether it's seasonal finance, term loans or personal loans for a house, motor vehicle or other project," said Mr Cullinan. Contact Ruralco Finance on 1800 775 061. Richard England, Chairman, Ruralco Holdings Limited Greg O'Neil, General Manager, CRT Choir of Hope & Inspiration (From left) Jonathon Welch, Layne Beachley and Rod McGeoch www.crt.com.au There s always better value at CRT. 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