About us

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Berwick-upon-Tweed
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Leading the way through our fully integrated supply chain and supporting our customers towards a sustainable and profitable future.

Founded in 1980, but with a family history that stretches back to the 1860s, McCreath Simpson & Prentice (MSP) are your partners in farming.

With decades of expertise in the agricultural merchanting sector, combined with an extensive and varied product range, we provide an unrivalled quality of service to the customers in our trading area, which stretches from the Highlands of Scotland to North Yorkshire.

Our family business

Our founder David McCreath's family connection with the agricultural merchanting industry dates back to 1866, when his grandfather founded H.G. McCreath & Son.

After that business was sold in 1980, David founded what would become McCreath Simpson & Prentice with the assistance of Simon Simpson - Chairman of then fourth-generation family business Simpsons Malt - who gave David his credit lines.

In 1984, David’s elder son, David, joined the business and is currently Group Fleet Manager, looking after a growing number of vehicles. Younger son Tim, meanwhile, joined Simpsons Malt Ltd in 1994 and became Managing Director of the malting division of the business in 2004.

With Tim and Richard Simpson - son of Simon Simpson - part of the Simpsons Malt Ltd Executive Team, they help to ensure that those family values are upheld and filter down throughout our colleagues.

A Certified B Corporation

In November 2021, we were the first agricultural merchanting business in the UK to become a Certified B Corporation, joining a growing group of for-profit companies who are committed to prioritising the environment and society in the way they do business.

The framework of the B Corp assessment process is now at the heart of the company’s overall operations, helping us sustainably grow our family business for future generations in the ‘right’ way.

B Corp is one of the only certifications that is not for a product or service, but for the whole business behind the product or service, with five categories comprising the overall assessment process: Governance, Workers, Customers, Community and Environment.

Every business is scored in each of these categories, with 80 points required to become a Certified B Corporation. For our assessment in November 2021, we scored 89.6 points.

Our customers

As a family business, MSP is built on the relationships it has with its customers – many of whom are also family businesses.

Our traditional values, which are based on establishing relationships that will last generations, are the backbone of our business.

Like-minded farmers that recognise how in-tune we are with the challenges and opportunities within the agricultural supply chain have grown their businesses alongside ours.

Through these relationships and innovation, MSP is where it is today. We look forward to growing with our customers and are excited to embrace the challenges that lie ahead.

Our expertise

We pride ourselves on the professionalism of our colleagues and the integrated product range we can supply to our customers, which includes cereal seed, fertiliser, agrochemicals, grass and small seeds and livestock feed.

We deliver to farms from the Highlands of Scotland down to North Yorkshire and offer all our customers access to FACTS and BASIS qualified Farm Traders, who are always on hand to offer quality advice and information.

It gives us a great deal of satisfaction that many of our colleagues choose to stay with us for a large portion of their careers, with the experience they are able to pass on to our customers - as well as down to younger Farm Traders starting out within the business - key to our success.

We believe that sharing information makes us stronger and it is this team approach that adds value to our business and results in a better and more sustainable future.

Our farm

In order to better understand the challenges that our customers face with each season, as well as the changing marketplace, we operate our own farm: West Burton near the village of Bamburgh in Northumberland.

Sizing up at just under 360 acres, we grow cover crops, oilseed rape, winter wheat, and both winter and spring barley for malting. The farm plays a key part in our advisory service, as it allows us to understand the viability and costs associated with growing each crop and the general running of a farm.

We run the farm without the Basic Payment support, which means we experience the importance of having to farm as efficiently as possible in order to make a profit, emphasising the importance of continuous improvement for everything that we do.

This requirement drives continual improvements in our general practices, cropping, agrochemical and fertiliser regimes and overall work efficiency.

A brief history

1866

H.G. McCreath & Son

Although McCreath Simpson & Prentice was founded in 1980, the family history of the business can be traced back to 1866, when grain merchant H.G. McCreath & Son was founded by Henry G. McCreath – the grandfather of MSP founder David McCreath.

Henry G. McCreath had seven sons, with Willie the eldest and David – David’s father – the youngest.

1914 - 1955

Navigating wartime Britain

David served during the First World War and went into the family company. However, he found it a bit slow so went to university in Edinburgh to do a course in civil engineering. Eldest son Willie had three sons – Henry, Bill and Geoff – with Henry and Geoff following Willie into the family business.

After the outbreak of the Second World War and with all three sons serving their country, Willie reluctantly, but understandably, made the difficult decision to sell the enterprise to fertiliser company Fisons Ltd.

However, in 1955 - a decade after his return from war - Henry had not only bought back the grain retail business from Fisons Ltd but had become Managing Director. Geoff was one of the firm’s Sales Directors, while Bill was Company Secretary.

The company began to expand and gained drying contracts with Highland Distillers to supply Highland Park, Tamdhu, Distillers Company Ltd and Fawcetts. They attended corn exchanges all over the country and Henry became president of the UK Agricultural Supply Trade Association.

1961

A decision well made!

In 1961, David McCreath – a cousin of Henry, Bill and Geoff, but considerably younger given the generational gap between the eldest brother Willie and his father David – joined the company after receiving an offer from Henry.

David had grown up in Kenya but was educated in the UK, completing an agricultural degree before doing a year’s work on a farm in Felkington, Northumberland. After that, David headed back to Kenya for three months where his father presented him with a decision: return home to work for the family business or take a one-way flight to Australia and £100.

David chose the former and has never regretted it, although does often wonder what would’ve happened had he decided to head Down Under!

1980

McCreath Simpson founded

David worked for H.G. McCreath & Son for 19 years, but the company was sold in 1980 to the Association of British Maltsters (ABM), which was part of Dalgety Agriculture.

At that point, David decided to start up on his own and did so with the assistance of Simon Simpson, Chairman of Simpsons Malt, who gave David his credit lines. As a result, on May 25, 1980, McCreath Simpson was formed, with Simon as Chairman of the business.

David operated the company on his own for two years and, during that time, he sourced fertiliser from Fisons Ltd and cereal and grass seed from John Prentice & Co.

1982

McCreath Simpson & Prentice

In 1982, John Prentice & Co. was on the market and David approached Tory Prentice to ask if he could bid for the company, which was permitted.

The acquisition was secured and, at the beginning of 1983, McCreath Simpson became McCreath Simpson & Prentice, with the original office being 1 Bridge Street in Berwick-upon-Tweed.

1984 - 1994

Family ties

The Bridge Street office was subsequently sold in 1984 and operations were moved to the Tweedside Trading Estate, nearby the Simpsons Malt headquarters.

Also in 1984, a distribution shed was built in Kelso, where the company sold feed and agrochemicals. This was a strategic purchase as the agricultural industry was going through a difficult time and by having this shed in the central Scottish Borders, farmers could come and collect the products themselves and save on delivery costs.

With a passion for haulage, David’s elder son, David, joined the business in 1984 and remains at the company today as Group Fleet Manager for Simpsons Malt, looking after a growing number of vehicles.

David’s other son, Tim, meanwhile, joined Simpsons Malt in 1994 from Glencore Agriculture and became Managing Director of the malting division of the business in 2004.

2000 - 2006

Operations grow

The Kelso shed was closed in 2000 and the feeding department was moved to Craigswalls, the large grain storage site between Chirnside and Duns in the Scottish Borders that Simpsons Malt had acquired from Philip Wilson (Grain) Ltd in the same year.

In 2003, David McCreath stepped back from the day-to-day running of the business but remained as a Director, with Andy Richardson becoming Managing Director.

In 2005, a new agrochemicals store was built on the Tweedside Trading Estate and new offices were constructed at Simpsons Malt in 2006 to accommodate staff from both Simpsons Malt and MSP.

The year 2006 also saw the MSP become responsible for farming at West Burton, near Bamburgh in Northumberland. More than 15 years on, the company still operates West Burton today, helping us to understand the challenges that farmers face with each season, as well as the changing marketplace.

2007 - 2011

Trading area widens

As both sides of the business continued to grow, Farm Trader John Belton joined in 2007 to extend the company’s trading area into Fife, while agricultural merchant John Guthrie Ltd was purchased in 2011, allowing the company to expand further into Angus, Perthshire, Aberdeenshire and the Highlands.

Between 2008 and 2009, the seed plant was upgraded completely and the fertiliser sheds and storage plant were extended. In 2013, a new, state-of-the-art fertiliser blending plant was built along with a new shed and the division’s business continued to grow year-on-year.

2016

A new Commercial Director

In 2016, Andy Richardson retired and Andy Hindhaugh became MSP Commercial Director, while he also joined the Board of Simpsons Malt Ltd in 2018.

Andy had previously worked at H.G. McCreath & Son and went on to Dalgety Agriculture when the business was sold, before joining McCreath Simpson & Prentice in 1996.

Despite his role within the business, Andy still maintains a farmer client base of his own, valuing the relationships he has built up in more than 25 years with MSP along with understanding the ongoing challenges being faced by his customers.

2021

WNL acquisition & B Corp

In 2020, Simpsons Malt Ltd announced it had acquired the grain merchanting division of W.N. Lindsay Ltd, giving the company 250,000 tonnes of additional grain storage across four sites in Scotland: Gladsmuir, Keith, Stracathro and Sidlaw.

The acquisition was completed in January 2021 and the W.N. Lindsay Farm Traders, located throughout Scotland, became part of the MSP team in January 2022.

In 2021, we also became a Certified B Corporation, joining a growing group of for-profit companies who are committed to prioritising the environment and society in the way they do business.

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