Working with two French farm machinery dealerships, a Dutch company, M4a-auctions, will be introducing its first services in France later this month (March 25-28). According to Bart Boonman, one of the founders of the auction service, while equipment auctions aren’t necessarily new in France, up until now they were associated with company bankruptcies.

According to Boonman, the online auction concept was introduced by American (Iron Planet) and Canadian (Ritchie Bros.) companies into Europe several years ago. As internet sales have become more common in Europe in recent years, “It has become easier to convince people to do e-business,” he says.

As is the case with North American farm equipment dealers, European distributors of ag machinery are increasingly utilizing auction services to move used products. “Things are changing and the internet provides sellers with a much larger number of potential buyers for the used machines,” says Boonman. “As the machines are more and more expensive the cashflow of dealers are not the same as yesterday and they need to sell their used machines quickly in order to have cash instead of iron sleeping in the yard.” 

Working directly with equipment dealers, M4a-auctions started offering on-site sales in 2014 and has organized 16 auctions, including 12 in Holland and 4 in Germany, so far. A total of 750 machines have been sold for a turnover of more than €2 million. The company says it has a customer database of over 15,000 potential buyers from 22 countries.

The machines are presented at the partner dealer's yard where we also gather the other machines of other sellers. In this case, the company is working with JHA-Agri in Pontfaverger Moronvilliers and at Cheval in Lérouville. Both locations are in northeastern France.

In addition to the dealers’ machines, m4a-auctions collects other equipment from farmers, contractors, manufacturers, importers, rental firms and municipalities. The machines that are presented are used or unused. They are tested before being presented at the auction. If a piece of equipment has a technical problem, m4a-auctions will note the problem on the technical sheet of the equipment assuring transparency with the buyers.

Together with the seller, the auction service establishes a reserve price ensuring a security on the sales price. On average, two-thirds of the presented machines are sold.

To bid on equipment, customers simply register on the internet platform and place their bids. There is no physical auction on site. The company offers a degressive buyer commission starting at 5%. The more expensive the equipment, the lower the percentage of the commission. The buyer is responsible for the transport of purchased machines.