The Wellcome Trust has acquired the Co-operative Group’s farms business for £249 million, a deal which includes 15,997 hectares, 100 residential properties, three pack houses and 27 commercial properties.
A 15-farm package, the former Co-op business will trade from now on as Farmcare Trading Ltd, being added to the Wellcome Trust’s £16.5 billion empire, which already includes property and agricultural land valued at £1.8 billion. The trust says it will develop and invest in Farmcare and will maintain existing services such as the Co-operative’s “Farm to Fork” education initiative.
Stressing that Wellcome was a long-term investor which valued responsible stewardship over quick profits, Danny Truell, chief investment officer of the trust, said: “We are ideally placed to develop and grow the Co-operative Group’s farms and farm business while providing continuity.
“The trust’s philosophy is to provide long-term investment for the businesses and property we hold, in good times and in bad. We will take this approach to running Farmcare Trading Ltd as a going concern, giving a business that is already strong and successful the support and resources it needs to grow, to the benefit of employees, tenants, partners and local communities.”
Richard Pennycook, interim group chief executive of The Co-operative Group, commented: “We have a buyer whose values are closely aligned to those of The Co-operative. They have a proven track record in managing a sustainable investment portfolio, the proceeds of which are used to fund improvements in biomedical science and learning. The Wellcome Trust has acquired an excellent farming business characterised by the quality and professionalism of colleagues and high levels of customer service. I expect the farming business to continue to thrive under their committed long-term ownership.”