The Doubleday Story
The Doubleday Group was founded by John Doubleday in the early 1970’s. John farmed with his father in the village of Holbeach St John’s. John supplemented his farming income however by buying and selling used agricultural machinery throughout the UK and Ireland. As well as dealing in agricultural machinery he also owned the local blacksmiths shop in Holbeach St Johns and based on his own farming experiences, recognised the need for a tine harrow. So he began designing and manufacturing cultivation equipment known locally as the ‘Doubleday Harrow’.
Demand grew for the harrow as word of mouth spread and as the business grew the small blacksmiths shop was soon outgrown. In 1973 John built the depot at Holbeach St John’s which is where the business still operates from today. It wasn’t long before the business added another activity, when in 1974 John became a sub-dealer for Ford tractors. The family’s farm had traditionally used Fords and it didn’t take much persuasion to get him selling new tractors.
However, the experience of retailing Fords didn’t work as smoothly as he would have liked and in May 1982, John was approached by John Deere. In a matter of weeks, terms had been agreed and on June 16 1982 John Doubleday signed an agreement to become a John Deere main dealer. John Deere at this time was very new to the UK market and therefore the risk was great but with the determination and hard work of the family and its team, success was soon to follow.
The Doubleday levelling harrow brochure (click to enlarge)
Although John Deere was relatively new in the UK, John W Doubleday Agricultural Engineers were one of the earlier dealers appointed and this decision to partner with a premium brand went down well with both local customers and staff on John Doubleday’s own farm too. The focus on not just excellent build but also driver comfort met with great approval.
John W Doubleday signing the John Deere dealer agreement 16th June 1982 (click to enlarge)
The brand new, purpose built unit at the family farm became home to the new John Deere dealership (click to enlarge)
The change also had a huge effect on turnover and over seventy tractors and thirteen combines were sold in 1984, all within a ten-mile radius of their base at Holbeach St Johns. As the dealership grew the cultivator business declined, as new machines from competitors entered the market. Even today, you can find a few Doubleday levelling harrows still being used for seedbed preparation, especially by sugar beet growers.
The next opportunity for growth came in 1988 when Doubleday took over neighbouring dealers Bourne Tractors, who could not continue to hold both John Deere and New Holland franchises. The new territory and outlet at Dyke, near Bourne was a perfect fit with Doubleday’s operation and by the mid 1990’s Bourne Tractors had quadrupled its turnover and was growing fast.
Another substantial territory was added in 1999 with the takeover of Evergreen Tractors at Wiggenhall St Germans, near King’s Lynn in Norfolk. Doubleday’s territory now covered sixty miles, east to west and twenty miles north to south. The growth of the Doubleday group has come on the back of a consistently good product range from John Deere but also with a strong offer of other machinery franchises and a focus on high levels of customer support.
All three depots continued to trade under their original names of JW Doubleday, Bourne Tractors & Evergreen Tractors until January 2012, when the company went through an entire facelift and rebranded as the Doubleday Group and adopted the logo and tagline “Part of the landscape for generations”. All of the depots were aligned which meant the birth of Doubleday Holbeach, Doubleday Bourne and Doubleday Kings Lynn, with the philosophy of working closer together as one team sharing ideas and resources.
In January 2013 our John Deere area of responsibility increased further into Lincolnshire which encompassed as far north as Chapel St Leonards, the expansion of the John Deere area complemented the Väderstad coverage which had been serviced in this area by the Doubleday team for over two years. To offer our new and existing customers the best possible service and backup a new state-of-the-art premises was built on a three-acre green-field site directly beside the A17 in the village of Swineshead, to serve customers in mid and north Lincolnshire and is right at the heart of the county’s farming community. Outside, there is a car parking area as well as plenty of hard standing for machinery displays. The building was awarded the RIDBA most sustainable building 2015 award as it designed to allow for diverse future uses as well as being as sustainable as possible for a business dependant on high usage of electricity and water for washing down machinery. This is handled by the maximum number of photovoltaic panels on the roof and a 10,000-litre water tank with a recycling system which enables 90 to 95% of the water to be used again. Doubleday Swineshead opened its doors to customers in May 2014 and began to work with customers both old & new, our Doubleday Bourne depot then started its phased closure which completed in the December.
The Doubleday family pictured at the opening of the Doubleday Swineshead depot (from left to right) Graham Collishaw; Zoe Doubleday-Collishaw; Jayne Doubleday; John Deere marketing director Richard Johnson; Company founder John Doubleday; Charles Doubleday-Collishaw; Ian Doubleday-Collishaw; Emma Doubleday-Collishaw and pictured on the tractor great grandson of John Doubleday, Henry Doubleday-Collishaw.
In line with John Deere’s dealer of tomorrow strategy, during November 2022, Ben Burgess formally acquired the Doubleday Group with all employees and existing Doubleday depots across Lincolnshire and Norfolk forming an extended part of the Ben Burgess Group.
Ben Burgess share Doubleday’s values for providing premium brands backed by expertise and excellent standards of customer service. The combination of the joint processes, dedicated teams and the infrastructure already in place at Ben Burgess will deliver the best value to both our team and customers. We are confident the high level of service we provide to our customers are accustomed to will continue undisrupted. For new machinery enquiries please speak to your local Ben Burgess branch.
Doubleday Group will continue to focus on providing the local area and countries worldwide with quality used machinery available from the Holbeach St Johns branch. The Doubleday Used Equipment team will stay as you know them, with the profound knowledge and support to ensure the same exceptional customer experience when purchasing your quality used machinery.
The ‘Doubleday belief is to treat employees and customers alike in the manner that we ourselves would wish to be treated.’
Although the business has grown, our values have remained the same and remain ingrained within our day-to-day operations.
We have collected many photos during the Doubleday journey and we have put a few together in our Doubleday history album for your to view.
Click here to view our Doubleday history photo gallery.