A senior AFGRI Equipment figurehead says a decision to close its Pingelly and Wagin branches and consolidate them into a $1.2 million Narrogin branch was “not easy” but “unavoidable”, and will help AFGRI continue to be sustainable. WA’s biggest John Deere dealership announced plans to close its Pingelly and Wagin branches last week, with plans to open a new Narrogin branch in April. The move will leave both Pingelly and Wagin without a machinery dealership in town, and about 50km from the new Narrogin branch. AFGRI operations director Gollie Coetzee said the company had carefully considered merging the branches and believed it was the right choice for customers. “As farming operations are becoming bigger and technology more complex, AFGRI have decided to combine the two branches,” Mr Coetzee said. “This was not an easy decision as it will have a huge impact on the community and staff. “It was was necessary in order to ensure we can deliver on our promise to be the market leader with premium equipment, service and solutions.” Exactly when the Pingelly and Wagin branches will close is still being decided and a date for the Narrogin opening will be set in coming weeks. The change will reduce AFGRI Equipment’s dealership network from 14 to 13, but the company previously flagged plans to open another WA branch this year. Mr Coetzee said the consolidation was “unavoidable” and would boost AFGRI and its customers’ sustainability. “We will need more resources, skills and facilities to ensure we exceed the expectation of customers and match the state-of-the-art equipment we provide,” he said. “It is a move that will insure their and our sustainability.” Shire of Pingelly president Bill Mulroney said the town was sad to lose its only machinery dealership. “It is something that the shire is worried about because it is another business closing down and it will have an impact on us,” he said. “It will impact the farming community and some farmers that use the Pingelly branch are 50km in the other direction. “It is a shame to see them go because people come to see AFGRI and then they visit the other businesses. So when one business leaves town, others do.” Shire of Wagin president Phillip Blight said there had been suggestions that AFGRI would maintain a parts division in Wagin. “We are disappointed they are leaving ... John Deere or Chamberlain has had some presence in town for at least 50 years,” he said. “We would be keen to find out where the parts division would be located in Wagin. “We would look forward to other entities seeing the value of Wagin and moving into town on the back of the vacancy.” Countryman revealed in May that the new, 10,000sqm Narrogin branch would include a 1172sqm dealership and service centre as well as a showroom and a workshop.