135-year-old seed and farm machinery company Atkins set for bountiful property harvest

135-year-old seed and farm machinery company Atkins set for bountiful property harvest

A business seed planted 135 years ago on Cork city’s South Mall still sees a family-owned firm sowing and reaping.

Now many moves are afoot for the private, family-owned farm machinery business Atkins, including the proposed sale of the company’s highly valuable 5.5 acres on Carrigrohane Road.

That Leeside site is at in active negotiation, for residential/apartment development, possibly aimed at student apartments, or co-living spaces.

The 1878-founded Atkins company with a €25 million pa turnover and employing 80 is set to concentrate the bulk of its farm machinery business on a profile 7.6 acres site it has acquired for c€1m via agents Lisney, by Junction 17 on the M8, near Cork’s Watergrasshill – an appropriate sounding address for a business that sells much grass and silage cutting, baling and handling equipment.

Company MD Mark Wolfe, who is the fifth generation of Wolfes involved, said that Atkins was now working to a new future master-plan that will in time affect a number of the company’s existing outlets in Bandon (to be redeveloped), Fermoy, Cork city at Carrigrohane Road by County Hall, with relocations from Carrigrohane and Fermoy to the major new centre at Watergrasshill’s Junction 17, close to where a major service station planning application currently is live pre-sale.

As part of the sequence of moves, Atkins will sell a two-acre roadside holding it bought in Rathcormac village in 2008 for over €1m.

That two acres, which may have residential development scope, is currently being marketed via estate agent Michael Barry of Dick Barry Auctioneers Fermoy, with a €500,000 price guide quoted.

It’s become surplus to requirements since buying the 7.5 acres at Watergrasshill, indicated Atkins’ Mark Wolfe, who revealed the most valuable part of the jig-saw will be the sale of the company’s 5.5 city acres at Carrigrohane Road.

It operates a farm machinery sales business there on c 2.5 acres, and also has a garden centre, retail shop and Lissh cafe (previously the Clay Pot) on three acres, trading as Garden World.

Atkins is currently scouting for a replacement site of over two acres for its Garden World business, around the city’s ring road/Ballincollig bypass area, it’s understood.

The much-traveled business, which is the longest-established farm machinery business in the country, itself moved to Carrigrohane Road in 1964 when it left St Patrick’s Quay, where it had been at No 5 since 1885.

Atkins also previously occupied Nos 49 and 54 South Mall, and had premises in Winthrop Street off St Patricks Street in the 1960s and ‘70s. The Atkins/Wolfe-family owned business also acquired a rival seed and farm implement business, McKenzies, in 1898, and continued to trade under the two banners, Atkins and McKenzies, for close to a further 100 years.

Atkins hardware store in West Cork’s Clonakilty, opened in 1950, but left the Wolfe family connection a number of years ago, while also subsequently sold was a seed business in Dingle, while Atkins also currently have a farm machinery business in Birr Co Offaly, and a distribution centre at Ballycurreen, off the Airport/Kinsale Road in Cork.

“We’ve had some far-flung adventures,” quipped Mr Wolfe, as Rathcormac’s almost incidental two acres is on the open market, via agent Michael Barry of Dick Barry & Sons, and as off-market negotiations continue on their Carrigrohane Road plum site, with an as-yet-undisclosed purchaser.

It’s close to the former Coca Cola site, sold several years ago when plans were drafted for Cork’s largest student accommodation, of up to 600 beds and is also close to other existing student accommodation complex, and the Crow’s Nest site at Victoria Cross, owned by UCC and with plans afoot for a 255-bed student accommodation building.

Details: Dick Barry & Son 025-31577, Lisney 021-4275079, www.atkins.ie

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