The Co-operative Group looks to sell its farms and pharmacies

Thu, 27 Feb 2014 | DIVISION SALE

The Co-operative Group has revealed plans to sell its farms business and a further possible sale of its pharmacy chain in a bid to address its significant losses.

The mutually owned company is readying itself for reported losses exceeding £2 billion, which would be its worst ever.

The farms were considered non-core in a group-wide strategic review of the businesses, which encompass food, banking, legal services and funeral parlours. The new chief executive Euan Sutherland led the review. The Co-operative Group had £1.2 billion of debts at the close of its first half in July and is anticipating more losses at the bank.

The chain of small pharmacies number 750 and employ 6,500 staff. The group thinks it needs investment to strengthen its position beside rivals like Alliance Boots.

The 15 farms are also in need of a cash boost. The Co-op started buying farms in the late 19th century to ensure an influx of food to its shops.

The Co-op is expected to defend the sale by saying that only two per cent of its produce, mostly potatoes, goes to the stores, and the bulk of it is sold on to other companies.

Established farmers, or those looking to enter farming, may welcome the chance to purchase the operating farms.

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