WA in the sales sweet spot

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Alan & Brad McKail of WA Machinery Brokers. Photo: Michael Wilson The West Australian
Camera IconAlan & Brad McKail of WA Machinery Brokers. Photo: Michael Wilson The West Australian Credit: The West Australian

WA will continue to be the shining star in terms of Australian machinery sales this year, while overall sales decrease on the back of the east coast drought.

After five years of growth, 2018 saw machine sales take a breather, slipping 4.8 per cent below 2017 figures to end with 12,158 tractors sold nationwide.

It was the end of a challenging year for suppliers and dealers in the east as farmers reined in their spending during one of the worst droughts in living memory.

Tractor and Machinery Association president Gary Northover said WA had a “stellar year” for broadacre tractor sales, with an 8.3 per cent increase year-on-year.

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“There are many factors driving the results, but most believe the drought and many farmers taking a more conservative stance in regards to purchasing, have had the greatest effect,” he said.

Of the 12,158 tractors sold last year, TMA reported the 100hp to 200hp category performed best, finishing 5 per cent ahead of 2017.

The bigger over-200hp broadacre tractors were down a further 22 per cent in December, finishing the year 8 per cent behind 2017.

Nationally, harvest combine sales are expected to decline this year, mainly due to the east coast drought. Tractor sales in the 40hp, 40hp to 100hp, and 100hp to 200hp were down 10 per cent in January, while tractors greater than 200 horsepower were 22 per cent down.

Farm Machinery and Industry Association of WA executive officer John Henchy said WA was in the sweet spot this year.

He said there was an air of confidence and positivity among machinery sellers at the WA field days late last year. “We have had a very good harvest since then, and that will have a good impact on our businesses,” Mr Henchy said.

“All of the dots have lined up, with a good harvest and good prices for grain and stock. It is not often that all of these things happen. The Eastern States issue has clearly had a big impact and that is being reflected in the numbers ... the drop in sales is not unexpected.”

WA Machinery Brokers general manager Alan McKail said he was feeling positive about the year ahead on the back of the recent bumper harvest.

“This is our busy time of the year,” he said. “Farmers and contractors have been buying and we have noticed a bit of an uptake in loaders, telehandlers and trailers.”

Mr Henchy said rural communities would benefit from the uplift in sales at machinery dealerships across WA.

“The flow-on effect for rural towns is very positive ... when you think about it, the farm machinery dealer is often the biggest employer,” he said.

“If business is going well, things are positive for employment and local sponsorship ... they are right into community events and are extremely generous.”

Mr Northover said the industry was starting to see price increases applied to imported machines.

“This is both part of the normal pricing cycle and due to the increasing cost of inputs, such as steel resulting from the imposition of tariffs in the US,” he said.

The Tractor and Machinery Association will hold its annual conference at Hyatt Place Melbourne on July 16. To find out more, visit tma.asn.au.

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