Agriculture - MJ & SC Collins was formed as a partnership between Michael and Christine Collins in 1961, with the business locating itself at Kingstons Farm, Matching near Harlow, Essex. This followed the compulsory purchase of the family farm where the town of Harlow now stands. Both Michael and Christine came from long standing farming families that migrated to the area during the 19 th century from south west England in order to gain greater access to the London markets for their produce.
By the 1980s MJ & SC Collins had expanded from around 250 acres to over 1,000 acres, growing cereals and ever more potatoes in addition to 28,000 egg laying chickens, a 250 sow pig breeding herd and 650 beef cattle. The business then employed 17 staff.
Simon and Jane Collins joined the partnership and continued to build on earlier success in a variety of ways.
Diversification - Given the fortunate location of the business within the M11 motorway corridor growth area, and with close proximity to both London and Stansted airport, the redundant farm buildings from livestock and potato production have been converted into a wide range of over 50 business units as storage warehouses; and for light to medium industrial use to serve the business community.
2007 saw the conversion of a range of redundant Victorian courtyard buildings into 9 high grade office units.
In 2014, another Victorian courtyard development of 11 high grade offices was completed to meet local demand for quality offices in a desirable well connected rural setting.
Over the years the business has also upgraded 10 surplus farm residential properties to a high standard for residential lettings.
As time moved on; by the 1990s, due to the changing economics of livestock production, the livestock enterprises had ceased, but the area of the arable crops increased to over 1,700 acres with a 550 acre potato growing enterprise producing pre-pack potatoes for the supermarket trade and export potatoes for tourists in the Canary Islands. Extensive irrigation and cold storage facilities were created.
In the early 21st century, due again to changing market demands, potato production became less viable and production ceased. However, the agricultural side of the business grew rapidly with a simplified cropping plan of wheat, barley, soya beans and sugar beet spread over more than 3,000 acres of East Hertfordshire and West Essex. MJ & SC Collins produce a variety of wheats, including Group 1 milling, Group 2 hard and Group 3 soft biscuit wheat. Due to advances in crop production techniques, the farm aspect of the business now employs 4 full time staff, with that number doubling during the busy summer and autumn months.
In July 2017, Simon and Jane's son Peter, became a partner within the business. Peter had a large involvement within both the agricultural and commercial side up until this time - but officially became a partner in the summer of 2017.
During 2011 and 2012, three solar panel PV schemes were
installed on rooftops at 3 farm locations to generate electricity for farm use, for the use of tenants and for export of surplus electricity to the National Grid.
Fishing Lakes at Lysander Park Farm, Sawbridgeworth have been developed into a thriving local facility.
MJ & SC Collins continues to seek opportunities to further expand all areas of the business.
Today, Peter Collins, a third generation of this Collins family is working with all aspects of the MJ & SC Collins business to ensure that the momentum of the business continues.