Half-yearly figures from the ANM Group based in Aberdeenshire, point to a positive start to 2021 with total throughput increasing by almost 15%.

The member-owned co-operative saw store cattle and prime stock values improve by more than 14%, with store sheep values ahead by almost 17%, while the value of prime sheep sold increased by just shy of 25%.

With headquarters at Thainstone, and a customer base extending throughout the north and north-east, and northern and western isles, the Group's ability to trade online, alongside traditional livestock sales, has enabled them to maintain an excellent market share.

Non-livestock sales have also seen improved activity, with increases in value in plant and machinery, and displenishing sales yielding good returns for customers through regular online activity.

Grant Rogerson, ANM Group chief executive said: “Our mid-year figures are extremely encouraging despite the challenges we continue to face in the rural sector.

"I have no doubt that our increase in average values is in part due to the continuing strategic investment by the Group in new technology and routes to market, and in our customer focused teams based at Thainstone and Caithness.

"ANM has always sought to be an innovator in all the businesses we operate, so that we can provide the best possible service and return for our members and customers.”

For the first six months of trading in 2021, total headage throughput for the Group was positive, with throughput overall for the Group increasing significantly. Livestock numbers through the ring in Caithness increased by 15%.

The Group has been actively campaigning over recent weeks to highlight the advantages of trading with a co-operative business, focused on delivering for its members, and has recently released figures showing significant increases in the number of members joining the co-operative.

ANM was the first auctioneer in the UK to deliver live real time bidding in their weekly commercial livestock sales, and this along with an increased focus on member benefits, including average commission rates at 3%, has delivered tangible returns for members and customers of the Thainstone-based business throughout Covid.

John Angus, head of livestock added: “It is important for us to host live sales at our centres, however there is no doubt our online bidding system and online marketplace has played a vital role within the industry in keeping the trade and benchmark for all stakeholders over the past eighteen months.

“With a strong demand for all classes of stock, and strong values through the ring, continuing to use the competitive price discovery of live auctions with a professional auctioneer, provides all buyers and sellers the same transparency and sale integrity.

“As we look to the future, we continue to invest in our team to support our growing customer base across our trading areas, in routes to market, and our online bidding system, with a newly upgraded version recently launched. We will continue to look for opportunities to grow and diversify to enable us to serve our members and customers the best we possibly can.”