THE Co-operative Group has shocked the farming community by making the decision to sell its farming assets.

It was reported recently that the group faces a loss of more than £2billion for 2013 which is the worst in its history.

Co-op’s first ever vineyard is based in Down Ampney, near Fairford and has been operating since 1918 but now it is expected to be sold due to the group deciding to move on from farming. Co-op as a whole has been farming since 1896.

A spokesman for the Co-operative Group said: “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.

“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.”

The news will be officially announced on March 26 by Co-op’s chief executive Euan Sutherland who will tell members of the Co-op’s regional boards that its farming operation of 15 farms will be sold.

He is also to reveal that the group is considering selling its 750 pharmacies which have come under financial pressure as the NHS tries to save money on prescriptions.

At the moment Savills is advising Co-op on its strategy for the sale of its farming business.

Specifically, a spokesman for Savills said they were working with Co-op in terms of whether to sell the farm land in at Manor Farm at the Down Ampney estate.

She said: “We’re currently working with Co-op to find out what the farm’s future will be but we’re not ready to release any more information just yet,."