A special meeting is to be held next week to discuss the conversion of BATA to a private company.

The move follows what was reported to be a 'fractious' meeting last Friday which was called to discuss the proposed move and to question the board of the Amotherby-based BATA (Brandsby Agricultural Trading Association).

Next Monday's meeting, called by 50 members, will consider and vote on a resolution to terminate immediately the proposed conversion of the society to a private company limited by shares.

To succeed, this requires a simple majority of voting members attending.

A second resolution is effectively a no confidence vote in the co-op’s current board and calls for all existing directors to be removed from office. This requires a two-thirds majority of those voting.

The meeting comes just the day before the first of two special member meetings for voting on the demutualization of BATA. Votes, which are limited to ordinary share members can also be sent by post or placed via an online portal.

Farmer Charles Brader, a former BATA chairman who lives in Thixendale, urged members to attend Malton Rugby Club Monday, August 14 at 7pm to vote on the resolutions.

"We believe that if the conversion is successful that BATA will, before long, be either sold or broken up.

"We believe that after 130 very successful years, that it has proved that it can survive and prosper.

"The cooperative society has conducted numerous surveys and found that staff working at a Cooperative are often more fulfilled than the private sector.

"We have not been given any convincing reasons to believe that BATA will be better able to compete after conversion."

Mr Brader added: "Member rights and future potential benefits would seem to be weakened post conversion.

"BATA has very good ability to raise capital as it is, because it owns 11 Country stores, a fuel business, two feed mills ,a head office block, substantial warehousing, let and other property.

"The board has historically consisted of mainly farmers and land owners, in fact exclusively so up until about 20 years ago. The proposed board would not have an active farmer on the board at all and would have a 6-3 split executive versus non-executive."

"The members of BATA have long standing loyalty and close relationship with the company and care for it, not just as a profitable company but as a provider of services to their community. If the conversion does ahead they are concerned that it will be just profit lead and fell that it would be detrimental to them and their businesses."

However BATA executive Andrew Richardson said the response from members had been mainly positive.

"We have a good business but as with any business we can't afford to stand still." he added.

"We have put forward this proposal to convert from a co-op to a limited company which will open doors to other areas."

Andrew said that to move the business forward they needed to raise finances that was not possible with the existing structure.

"Unfortunately some people have been misleading others but the majority of people we have spoken to are in favour of the move.

"We also encourage members to contact us directly and we will be happy to answer any questions they have."

BATA’s registered name is Brandsby Agricultural Trading Association Limited. It was established in 1894 and has just under 3,000 members entitled to vote.

The group had a turnover of £153m in the year to 30 September 2022.

For more information on the conversion proposal email secretary@bataltd.co.uk or phone 01653 605200.