Animax targets growth at home and abroad
Animax was founded in 1982 by experienced veterinarian Les Porter. In September 2018, the company was acquired by the Carr’s Group in a deal worth £8.5 million. Simon King, Editor of the OverTheCounter magazine interviewed Animax managing director Philip Codling
Animax was established by the late Les Porter BVMS FRCVS, who recognised that technological and scientific advancements which can increase yields and production, optimise fertility and support animal health would become crucial for farmers.
The company specialises in the research, development and manufacture of animal health products and Animax is the market leader in trace element supplementation for livestock.
Based in Suffolk, Animax is best known for its range of leaching boluses, which deliver a prolonged and consistent release of the key trace elements – copper, cobalt, iodine and selenium, which are essential for supplementation in low-trace element diets in livestock. The boluses leach known and optimum levels of these elements for up to six months.
Philip Codling, Animax managing director, joined the company in 2011 as finance manager, after working for the previous 21 years in the oil industry.
He said: “I was working in international accounting and in 2010 I decided that I really didn’t want to commute into London or travel the world anymore, so I looked for alternative things to do and met Les Porter.
“We had a chat and I joined the business in June 2011. At that time, Les recognised that there was a weakness in the business in terms of costing and cost control. I came in and immediately attended a meeting with the sales team, which lead to me getting involved in wider aspects of the business right from the outset.”
Mr Codling says that in the months since the acquisition, while there has been little change from an external point of view, there have been changes internally, including an improvement of controls and reporting, with greater analysis of projects.
“While the UK and Ireland are Animax’s core markets, we now have access to new markets, as well as funding and, management support. Carr’s has access into markets that previously we would only have dreamt of in terms of market presence.”
Animax, like Carr’s, trades in New Zealand and Philip says that the business will leverage off its owner’s presence in the country.
Mr Codling adds: “There’s going to be a massive opportunity for the business moving forward – Carr’s really understands the different nature of our business, in terms of our medicinal licence, greater regulatory requirements. We have an excellent R&D facility here in the UK, with our scientific staff and a purpose-built lab.
“We are very proud of our technical excellence, which is encapsulated in the phrase ‘it does what it says on the box’.”
Philip says the business is looking at making changes to the manufacturing process, which, he says, will improve its internal efficiencies. At the same time, Animax is looking at making enhancements to its products.
“The merchants have choices and they need to make those choices which enhance their value proposition to the farmer, so we need to make sure that they fully understand the benefits of our products,” he adds.
On the subject of Brexit, Mr Codling says if anyone knows what to do, please tell him. “I don’t think anybody knows and that includes the politicians,” he says.
Mr Codling points out that the current uncertainty hasn’t halted investment activities, but he is mindful of the concerns of farmers, which include issues around where the produce is going, what prices they are going to get and what support is going to be available in terms of subsidies or grants in the future.
“I think we have a period of uncertainty ahead,” he adds. “Even when a deal is done, we’ve still got to work out what the deal actually is – it seems that most people don’t realise that this is only an agreement to talk!
“There could be interruptions to suppliers, but we don’t see any interruptions in our business. We’ve conducted research on our inputs into the factory and they all seem very stable and we don’t have any issues with any of those.
“With SQPs we are investing in product training, which is face-to-face and web-based, making it much more accessible to people. Our CPD training is accredited with a total of 41 points and our dedicated territory managers are trained to deliver it.
“The training is really important to us because SQPs need to understand exactly how beneficial our products are to the farmer and we have a strong sales team making sure everyone is happy and building relationships with SQPs that are mutually beneficial.”
Looking ahead, Mr Codling says that Animax will continue its growth in its core markets and look to grow market share as farmers begin to realise that leaching boluses deliver a prolonged and consistent release of the key trace elements.
“We were the first company and remain as the only company to offer boluses that use a unique bolus technology. We are still using this technology, which we still consider to be the best. As other products come and go, Animax will always continue to be there in the foreground.”
Before finishing the interview, I couldn’t resist asking Mr Codling who his three dinner guests would be – and the Brexit situation provided him with his inspiration:
“I’d invite Theresa May, Michel Barnier and Nigel Farage,” he says.
“I’d like them to work out what is going on with Brexit. Give them a nice bottle of port and see who has the answer at the end of the night.”