Co-op says to sell farms, may sell pharmacy business

LONDON Wed Feb 26, 2014 4:00am EST

LONDON Feb 26 (Reuters) - Britain's struggling Co-operative Group said on Wednesday it had kick started the sale of its farms and was looking at selling part or all of its pharmacy business.

The company, which this month cautioned that it had lost touch with its customers, said it had decided its farms were "non-core" as part of a wider strategic review of all of its businesses.

"(The group) has started a process that is expected to lead to a sale of the business," the company said in a statement on its website.

"In addition, it is exploring options for the future of the Pharmacy business; this could include the sale in whole or part of the business."

A source familiar with the situation told Reuters the process of selling its pharmacy arm was at an early stage while the farms sale was more advanced.

The Co-op, whose banking arm has been hit by a capital shortfall and drugs scandal involving its ex-chairman, is undergoing a independent review of its operations.

The BBC, which reported earlier on Wednesday about Co-op's farms and pharmacy business sales, also said that the group is expected to announce full-year 2013 losses greater than 2 billion pounds ($3.34 billion) next month.

A Co-op spokesperson declined to comment on the BBC report.

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