Co-op confirms it is selling its farms

The Co-op does a lot of contract farming in the Borders
The Co-op does a lot of contract farming in the Borders

The Co-op confirmed yesterday (Wednesday) it is selling its farming arm which means it could pull out of its Borders base at Whitsome Hill Farm, near Duns.

The supermarket giant has an office at the farm which is owned by Ivor and Robert Gaston.

A spokesperson said Whitsome Hill was “on the list” but no further details were available as we went to press.

The announcement came after speculation from the BBC that the business will record losses of over £2billion when it posts its annual results at the end of March.

A spokesperson for the Co-op explained: “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 contract farms land on behalf of several clients in the Borders region.

It runs its ‘From Farm to Fork’ operation - inviting schoolchildren onto farms to learn about where their food comes from - from the Hirsel Estate at Coldstream.

The Co-operative Wholesale Society, as it was then, bought its first farm in 1896.

The Co-op is now one of Britain’s largest producers, farming over 50,000 acres across the UK.

It moved out of dairying in 2003 to concentrate on arable production and in recent years has been building packhouses and setting up turbines.

It has also promoted and invested in sustainable production over the years.