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Countrywide Farmers calls in administrators
The Competition and Markets Authority did not approve the sale owing to concerns it could push up prices or lower quality.

Proposed sale to Mole Valley Farmers fails to get approval 

One of the UK’s leading suppliers to the rural community, Countrywide Farmers, has gone into administration after the proposed sale of its retail business fell through.

The company had been reviewing its options over the past year and agreed the sale of its retail division, which comprises 48 outlets, to Mole Valley Farmers in October last year.

Administrators have now been called in to decide the future of the business, however, after the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) did not approve the sale, owing to concerns that it could push up prices or lower quality in 45 local areas.

The CMA referred the merger for a ‘phase two’ investigation, a process that Countrywide said could take up to six months. As a result of the extended time period, the company concluded that it would be unable to meet its financial obligations.

Countrywide commented in a statement: ‘Following their appointment, the administrators will determine the appropriate course of action and future for the business. It is with significant regret that the Countrywide Retail business which trades from 48 stores and employs over 700 staff will now face a very uncertain future.’

The company has appointed David Pike, Mark Orton and William Wright, partners of KPMG LLP, to act as administrators for the company.

Meanwhile the sale of Countrywide’s LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) business to DDC Plc completed on 1 March, for a sum of £28.75 million.

Mr Pike is quoted by Farmers Guardian as saying: “Following the recent CMA announcement, the proposed retail transaction cannot proceed. Unfortunately, given the significant trading difficulties and cash flow pressures, this has led the directors to consider their options and take the difficult decision to place the company into administration.
“It is our intention to seek a purchaser for the business in whole or part and we have appointed Hilco Capital to assist in running the stores whilst we explore and develop available options. We encourage anyone who has an interest to contact us immediately.”

Image by Cwfonline/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

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Sale of microbeads now banned

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 The sale of products containing microbeads is now banned across England and Scotland, Defra has confirmed.

As part of government efforts to prevent these plastics ending up in the marine environment, retailers can no longer sell rinse-off cosmetics and personal care products containing microbeads. These tiny plastics were often added to products including face scrubs, soaps, toothpaste and shower gels.

Just a single shower is thought to send 100,000 of these beads down the drain and into the ocean, where it can cause serious harm to marine life. A ban on manufacturing products containing microbeads previously came into force in January this year. 

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