THE upturn in the dairy industry and injection of money from the sale of Warrnambool Cheese and Butter (WCB) are being reflected in sales of big ticket items in Warrnambool.
Clinton Baulch, principal of Warrnambool Nissan, Isuzu and Jeep dealerships, said sales took an upward turn in September and have climbed steadily since.
“Milk prices started to rise in July and we started to see the flow-on three months later,” Mr Baulch said.
“It has been good for us. We had a terrible time from February to September last year when farmers were also having a terrible time.”
Mr Baulch said the strongest sales were in dual-cab utilities, typically selling for between $30,000 and $60,000.
He said the injection of millions into the local economy in February after the sale of WCB had been responsible for at least some of the sales.
“I had two or three say to me they were using money from the sale of their shares. There were probably more. It’s not possible to say whether sales are due to the general upturn or to the WCB money.”
About 35 per cent of the WCB share register was held in the Warrnambool region.
The sale of the company in February for half a billion dollars is estimated to have put about $160 million into the local economy.
Farm machinery sales have also felt some of the benefit.
Western District Agricentre manager Jason Torney said there had been an upturn.
“Sales are strong. There hasn’t been a doubling of sales or anything like that but there has been a definite upturn,” he said. “It’s still a tough and very competitive market, but sales are strong.”
Western District Agricentre sells a wide range of farm machinery and is also agent for Lely robotic milking machines.
Mr Torney confirmed that there were two solid prospects for robotic installations in the region.
“Conditions are certainly more conducive to such large investments than they have been for a long time,” he said.
The Peter’s Project charity, which recently reached the $5 million community contribution target for a radiology centre in Warrnambool, was also helped over the line by the WCB sale.
“There were a couple of generous donations that we know were money from the WCB sale,” Peter’s Project founder Vicki Jellie said.
Farm incomes have increased since mid-2013 due to higher global prices, a more favourable exchange rate for exports and most recently, an exceptionally good season.