After 30-years leading Velcourt through substantial growth and changes to agricultural practice, chairman/CEO James Townshend will move into the role of executive chairman. He will continue in this important leadership position to further develop the company’s services, its partnerships, and the farm businesses that Velcourt manages. Nick Shorter will be appointed to the newly created role of managing director of Velcourt Ltd.
Commenting on Mr Shorter’s appointment, James Townshend says: “Nick’s appointment as Velcourt Ltd’s MD is a deserved promotion given the success he has had throughout his 20-year career with Velcourt, and more recently as the Company’s farms director in the South of England. This appointment comes at a time when all the signals point to a significant upheaval for the UK’s farming industry. Our belief that the new world for agriculture, post Brexit, needs fresh thinking creating opportunities for those prepared to face into that: together, we relish that challenge.”
Mr Shorter’s working career encapsulates Velcourt’s ethos of training and nurturing talented and trusted farm managers and advisors, with multi-sector experience, for the UK and Europe. A Harper Adams’ graduate, Nick started his Velcourt career as a herd manager in 2001, joining Velcourt’s graduate training program and working his way up to assistant farm manager on a 1,000ha mixed unit in Suffolk and on to manager of an 800-cow dairy and forage unit in Hungary.
In 2009, Mr Shorter moved to Wiltshire to become regional farm manager responsible for five farm managers and 11 farming businesses farming 4,000ha. In 2014 he was appointed to the Velcourt board as Farms’ Director for the South, growing the role to 14 farm managers and 32 diverse farms extending from Kent to Dorset, encompassing 20,000ha. He has led the development of Velcourt’s national agronomy business of six agronomists now advising on 39,000ha.
On his appointment he says: “I am delighted to move into the new role of MD for Velcourt Ltd. Having most recently led our farming operations in the South, and the development of our advisory business, I know how important it is that we continue to adapt our farming services to match industry and client needs, without losing sight of our core principles. The new structure will give us the right balance between consistency of governance and the opportunity to lead the company in a new direction in the future.
“As UK farming repositions itself to meet a fresh set of challenges, a whole new marketplace, and the move towards net zero – so the needs of our farms, clients and farming partners are changing too. My vision is to ensure that Velcourt continues to have the strategic, technical and farm management solutions to answer those challenges.”
Velcourt Ltd manages 58,000 ha for a variety of clients on different arrangements across the UK. The business turnover is £29.2m and it employs 120 people. Velcourt, which was founded in 1967, is a cross-sector farming company that provides working capital and shares in the business risk as well as farm management services, agronomy, and livestock advice. In addition, Velcourt undertakes highly regarded, and applied, research and development to underpin its advice and farm management systems. People are the central pivot for the business and recruitment standards are rigorous and aim to produce the best agricultural practitioners in the industry through its unique management training scheme.