One of UK’s largest agricultural businesses, Strutt & Parker (Farms) Ltd, goes up for sale

Strutt & Parker (Farms) Ltd is up for sale. Pictured is a set of turbines it owns Picture: KEVIN SNE

Strutt & Parker (Farms) Ltd is up for sale. Pictured is a set of turbines it owns Picture: KEVIN SNELL - Credit: Archant

One of the largest agricultural businesses in the UK, which is based across Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire, is up for sale for the first time in its 100-year history.

Strutt & Parker (Farms) Ltd, a multi-asset rural property company which includes freehold and leasehold assets generating “significant income” of £21m a year offers “medium to long term opportunities to realise substantial capital and revenue growth”, said agents Savills and Deloitte. Although there is no official guide price, sources close to the company suggest a figure in excess of £200m.

With more than 80 family shareholders, many now fifth or sixth generation, the decision was taken to sell up.

The business spans rural, residential and commercial property including the Whitbreads Business Centres brand, renewable energy operations such as two anaerobic digestion plants, a natural burial business and a portfolio of smaller commercial lets. It also includes 30,000 of farmland and potential development land.

The business, offered up as a whole through Savills, will be sold as a going concern, including all staff.

The farming operation includes 13,000 acres of freehold farmed land and a further 20,000 acres of farmland subject to third party agreements of varying lengths of time.

The residential portfolio includes 121 freehold properties let to tenants.

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The Whitbreads Business Centres, based around two converted farmsteads in Essex, provide 48 serviced office units and facilities generating an annual rent of around £400,000. Other commercial operations including workshops and light industrial and livery yards generating an annual rent of around £450,000, while the renewable energy arm includes onshore wind, and solar, with a total revenue of about £7.6m.

The natural burial site near Chelmsford has not yet been operational for a full year.

Strutt & Parker (Farms) Ltd was founded in 1918 by the two land-owning families of Strutt and Parker. Founders, Edward Strutt and Charles Parker, were farming neighbours and good friends and decided to combine their expertise to form the company in 1918.

Their two shareholdings have been passed down over five generations, and most shareholders are now widely dispersed, with a limited personal connection with the business.

It is a different business to that of estate agents Strutt & Parker, which is part of BNP Paribas Real Estate.

Alex Lawson, director of farms and estates at Savills, said: “It is well reported that growing regional and global demographics coupled with climate change are driving the need for greater food production as well as increasing the demand for housing and other facilities in the south.

“Having evolved during the past 100 years into the company it is today, Strutt & Parker (Farms) Ltd is in an exceptional position to further transform, increase revenue and capital appreciation.”

David Jones, corporate finance partner at advisers Deloitte, said he expected wide interest home and abroad in the business.

“It is very rare for an opportunity of this scale and diversity to come onto the open market in the UK and for the overseas buyer the current weakness of the pound against the dollar adds to the attraction,” he said.

“We also anticipate enquiries from institutions looking for long-term asset backed investments that are blue chip in nature and generating a positive yield, as well as property companies looking for a secure long term investment with various opportunities for growth.“