Blog: Dean BestFarms could go as Sutherland looks to revitalise Co-op

Dean Best | 26 February 2014

The Co-operative Group is looking to sell its farms as part of plans to breathe fresh life into the UK company.

The Co-op, the UK's fifth-largest grocer, is a business under pressure from its declining share of the country's food retail market to the problems that have engulfed its banking arm.

Recently-appointed CEO Euan Sutherland is taking stock of The Co-op's business and looking to get the company on a sounder footing and improve a reputation dented in recent months.

Last week, Sutherland announced a national survey, allowing customers to "have your say" on the future shape of the business.

This morning, The Co-op indicated how it saw the future shape of the company with a brief announcement to confirm it expects to sell its farming division, which it has often said makes it "Britain's largest farmer".

"As part of the wider strategic review of all of its businesses, The Co-operative Group has decided that its farms are non-core and has started a process that is expected to lead to a sale of the business," The Co-op said.

In addition, it said it is "exploring options" for its pharmacy business, which could include the sale of that business, too.

The BBC reported this morning "well-placed sources" had told the broadcaster The Co-op will next month report annual losses of over GBP2bn.

It said the losses will come, in part, from write-downs on the value of the stores and goodwill The Co-op took on when it bough fellow UK food retailer Somerfield in 2009.

The Co-op, which has been a regular fixture in national UK headlines in recent months, looks set to been in the spotlight again in 2014. 

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