Co-op Group to 'sell farms ahead of £2bn loss'

Food-to-banking group is bracing for mammoth losses after a year marred by scandal

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The Independent Online

The Co-op is to sell its farming assets and will consider the future of its pharmacy business as part of plans to revive the troubled mutual.

The group, which is reportedly set to announce losses of £2 billion in results for 2013 due next month, has started the process of selling the agriculture business, which features 15 farms and three packing sites.

It also confirmed that it is exploring options on the pharmacy business, including the sale of all or part of the operation. The division is one of the UK's three largest pharmacy chains, with 750 branches and 6,500 staff.

Chief executive Euan Sutherland has already admitted that last year was the worst in the group's 150-year history. The firm's banking branch last year discovered a massive capital blackhole, which led to its near collapse, control being handed to hedge funds and the drug allegations against the bank’s former chairman Paul Flowers.

Earlier this month the Co-operative launched a massive online survey asking people how the business should be run in future, in a bid to regain consumer's trust and get its business back on track.

The survey included questions as to whether the Co-op should continue to make donations of up to £1 million a year to Labour and individual politicians.

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