Mick GossI have had to share tough news in my time, but nothing as tough as this. We started making Vuma Horsefeeds 20 years ago, and in that time, even our competitors will concede, we changed the nutritional landscape.
In the past ten seasons, the Champion trainer has been on our books seven times, the Champion Breeders five times, and we’ve fed any number of sport horse champions. On the way, we’ve employed more than 50 people, and we’ve sustained many families. That makes this note all the more painful.
We returned from the National Sales to the news that we’d been the victims of a massive fraud in the procurement of ingredients, and on the farm there’d also been large scale theft of product. For some time, we’ve feared that the eye has been off the nutritional ball. This explains things.
The reality is simple. Vuma is not our core business. While it has been one of the pillars of Summerhill’s success, we have had to employ numbers of people from outside the farm in order to keep up with our growth. The two elements of urban and rural staff working together do not gel well, not here at any rate. The security issues that pre-occupy us with a plant operating 24/7 have made Vuma a distraction, and now a serious headache. Besides, Summerhill can ill afford to keep supporting a business which is culturally so far removed, and where we’re having to maintain a constant vigilance on where things are going.
We are driven to one very unfortunate conclusion. We are going to wind the business down in the next fortnight, so that it will do only what it was originally intended to do: a dedicated Summerhill plant, operating in daylight hours with farm staff.
In our time in the feed business, we have been privileged to have developed enduring relationships with some excellent people. You are one of them. We are especially saddened to have to share this news with you, as we feel we are letting people down.
Yet faced with these problems, and especially the extent of them, we know you will understand. We have no choice, and we need to do so while the business remains profitable, and is a going concern.
We are not selling it, nor will we part with the brand unless it’s passed to the custodianship of a worthy entity. When I gave up my law practice, I took nothing for it. My sole concern was that its people were taken care of.
Within Vuma, there are some quality employees. Some will be retained, others will not be as fortunate. They will be looked after as far as possible, and that will be our prime concern, as well as the interests of our customers.
I leave for Australia as I write, but for those whom I haven’t been able to speak to personally, you are welcome to ring Heather Morkel, Catherine Hartley or Haydn Bam, if there is anything we can help with.
I should end by thanking you so much for your loyal support and help in the past. We take nothing for granted here, and we’re extremely sorry to have inconvenienced you.
As always, warmest regards.
FOUNDER : VUMA HORSEFEEDS