The Co-operative Group intends to sell off its 14 UK farms, it announced today (26 February).
The group said on its website:
"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."
Following a write-down of bad loans at the Co-operative Bank, the troubled group reported overall losses of over £550 million in the first half of last year - losses which are expected to rise to over £2bn for the year as a whole.
Distributed across the UK, the Co-operative Farms have provided the retailer with a range of produce for over 100 years, though they amount to only a small share of its overall farm produce sales.
They currently include three fruit farms in Perthshire, Herefordshire and Kent, three vegetable farms in eastern England, and a potato grower in the Scottish Borders.
Employing around 200 people, the farms have until now also been used both to increase children's understanding of food and farming through the From Farm to Form programme, and to promote wildlife-friendly farming.
Further details on the proposed sale are expected at the end of March.