In the run-up to the hotly anticipated LAMMA show which takes place in January, the Scottish Farmer caught up with Scottish machinery business Ritchie to get the ins and outs of exhibiting at the UK’s largest agricultural machinery show.

Ritchie has a vibrant 153-year history as the company was founded in 1870 by David Ritchie when he took over Gateside Smithy just outside of Forfar in Angus. The business was passed on to his sons in 1915 who moved away from blacksmithing in favour of agricultural engineering at a location in Whitehills, Forfar. At that time the work mainly consisted of repairing implements such as potato baggers and fodder wagons.

The Scottish Farmer: Bob Ritchie from RITCHIE Agricultural Ref:RH191223078 Rob Haining / The Scottish Farmer...Bob Ritchie from RITCHIE Agricultural Ref:RH191223078 Rob Haining / The Scottish Farmer...

The business persevered through two world wars and in 1948 published its first catalogue full of products manufactured in house. This was also when the company began selling through their own UK wide dealer network with all deliveries outside of the local area being transported by train. It wasn’t until the 60s when Ritchie bought their first truck and started a door-to-door delivery service and by 1973 they had built their first factory in Forfar.

The business has since expanded with a foray into the gas supply industry constructing gas cylinder handling equipment for the offshore market and now it has manufacturing facilities in the West Midlands and China, as well as its main office and home site of Forfar.

The Scottish Farmer: Combi Clamp design to be towed by a quad Ref:RH191223071 Rob Haining / The Scottish Farmer...Combi Clamp design to be towed by a quad Ref:RH191223071 Rob Haining / The Scottish Farmer...

As an event LAMMA (Lincolnshire Agricultural Machinery Manufacturers Association) began in 1982 as a showcase for the latest agricultural systems available for the local farmers. It was established by a small group of agricultural equipment manufacturers from Lincolnshire but it has since grown into the UK’s leading machinery show.

Ritchie has been exhibiting at the show for many years now and speaking to UK sales manager and Welsh area salesperson Carwyn Davies confirms why.

The Scottish Farmer: product get assembled on site Ref:RH191223067 Rob Haining / The Scottish Farmer...product get assembled on site Ref:RH191223067 Rob Haining / The Scottish Farmer...

“It’s one of the few events that farmers will attend because they do want to see what’s out there. It’s not like a summer show where you go because you always do, attendees of LAMMA are making an effort to be there and that’s why it is still seen as a business event from that perspective.”

The event happens at an optimal time of year according to Carwyn.

“Being in January it’s when farmers have the time and want to spend money on some new kit before the spring and summer seasons kick off.”

The Scottish Farmer: Wrapped bale handler Ref:RH191223075 Rob Haining / The Scottish Farmer...Wrapped bale handler Ref:RH191223075 Rob Haining / The Scottish Farmer...

The show is held at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham and takes place over two days with more than 600 exhibitors being showcased.

“There’s all the big tractor manufacturers like John Deere and New Holland exhibiting this year so it’s definitely going to be a bigger event than previous. That’s how you know the show is a big deal that these big brands aren’t coming down themselves and not just doing it through a dealer.”

Carwyn regards the show as one of the few times of the year the whole Ritchie team can get together.

“I work from home in Wales so I really don’t get to see most of the team when we are all working in our individual corners of the country so it is really nice to get to see everyone and catch up at the start of the year.”

The Ritchie stand will have six members of staff and will showcase some brand new systems as well as the old favourites.

“One thing about LAMMA is that it’s a very good place to launch new products and this year is no exception.”

Currently, Ritchie’s best-selling product is the Combi Clamp system for easy sheep handling. At this year’s show, the company are planning to launch a new off-road trailer system for the Combi Clamp.

“It’s really exciting to have something brand new showcased at such a big event and it really drives interest in the stand. A lot of the exhibitors like to use the show to introduce new technology and we’re no exception.”

Ritchie has customers from the top of Scotland to the bottom of Cornwall and everywhere in between but LAMMA gives the business exposure to new clients from abroad.

“You get a lot of visitors from Europe as you can get a cheap flight over to Birmingham and the airport is attached to the NEC so it makes it really easy to travel to from the continent. You also get a lot of people from Australia and New Zealand attending as they like to see what new technology is on the market.”

Previously an outdoor event the show has been held at an indoor location in Birmingham since 2019.

“Genuinely the biggest change we have seen is when it moved to Birmingham a few years ago. It being a January event the weather wasn’t always the kindest when we were outside and it would discourage folk from coming along I think. The NEC is ideal, it’s so easy to get to and the airport and train station are attached to the centre so you really don’t have an excuse not to go.”

It is also worth noting that the event’s record attendance could partially be down to the fact that farmers can access the show free of charge.

“Farmers just need to register for their tickets but it’s completely free for them to attend and I think that’s why it’s so popular. Of course, it means the exhibitors have to pay a lot to subsidise that, but for us as a business, it’s worth it. We get good value for money for simply being there.”

One of the most valuable aspects of Ritchie’s presence at the show is their ability to connect with their customers.

“It’s obviously good that everyone can work from home and meetings can be online since the pandemic but being able to see everyone in person can’t be beat. I think the show does that, giving faces to names and not being constantly behind a screen. We also get a lot of our customers wanting to check out the systems in person and LAMMA allows for that.”

Ritchie no longer does demonstrations of their equipment and instead opts for more on-farm trials.

“We find it’s better for us to invite a bunch of our customers to a farm to showcase a product over individually doing demos. Quite rightly the farmers want to see the machinery for themselves and outside of shows that’s the only other time you can see some of the systems in action.”

Outside of LAMMA Ritchie still attends most of the major summer shows, so if you are unable to attend the event you still have a chance to see them.

“Bob Ritchie attends all the trade shows and he has his phone number on the website for anyone to contact him. It’s rare these days that customers can so easily speak to the face of the company but Ritchies started out as a local family business and our ethos hasn’t changed. We employ up to 150 people over our sites in Forfar, West Midlands and China but we still our sales team are still there to get to know our clients and give them the best service.”

Bob Ritchie will be at LAMMA along with the rest of the Ritchie core team, who will be on-hand to answer any questions.

LAMMA show 2024 will take place on January 17-18 at the NEC, Birmingham. For more information visit