The British Co-operative Group is going to sell 17,808 acres of farmland. The move comes as its banking arm announced losses of Stg£1.3 billion for 2013.
The 17,808 acres is equivalent to more than 10,000 football pitches and will equate to 13% of the 139,000 acres sold in Britain on the open market in 2013.
The Co-op’s farming business dates back over 100 years and is owned by its 7.2 million members. It employs some 250 people across the 15 farms and three packing houses across England and Scotland, producing a variety of cereals, fruit and vegetables. Reports say the group wants to transfer the whole business – staff included – to a single buyer. Some 8% of UK farm sales in 2013 were to non-UK buyers.
According to Savills in the UK, which is handling the sale, the details of the portfolio are still highly confidential at the moment, but it did confirm that the 17,000 acres which is made up of 15 different farms across England and Scotland, is being offered as one portfolio.
If the value of prime British farmland is estimated at Stg £8,500 an acre, the entire 17,000 acres could be valued at Stg£150 million.
Last year, some 75,000 acres of agricultural land was sold in Ireland through the sale of nearly 1,500 farms around the country. The largest farm offered for sale last year in Ireland was a hill farm of just over 800 acres.