Morrisons has written to UK farmers whose produce fill their supermarket shelves to reassure them that the takeover offer led by US investment firm Fortress will protect the character of the company and its relationships with its suppliers.
In a letter to the 3,000 farmers who supply the grocer, seen by the Guardian, Morrison chief executive David Potts writes that the company’s board of directors believes the fortress would be a “proper and responsible owner” , and that its commitments concerning the future of the company “carry a real weight”.
“Throughout our discussions with Fortress, we have considered very carefully whether Fortress would be an appropriate and appropriate owner of Morrisons and whether their plans for the business would protect and develop the fundamental character of Morrisons for the benefit of all stakeholders,” wrote Potts.
“And that of course includes the farmers we work with and UK agriculture more broadly. “
Unlike other supermarkets, Morrisons deals directly with the farmers who stock its shelves, rather than wholesalers. As a result, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) calls Morrisons “UK agriculture’s biggest direct customer”.
Farmers had previously expressed concerns over whether a future owner of Morrisons would honor its relationships with food producers and payment practices, while pledging to work with farmers to improve sustainability and ensure food security in the Kingdom. -United.
Morrisons was seen as the cornerstone of the UK’s food supply infrastructure during the disruption felt during the pandemic and after Brexit.
Potts wrote that the grocer was “proud to have stood up for British farmers” for generations, and assured them that “will not change with a new owner”.
Minette Batters, the president of the NFU, said last week that farmers would “closely monitor any potential Morrisons takeover.”
Batters praised Fortress’s recognition of Morrisons ‘important role in British agriculture, describing it as “encouraging” that the company was “committed to pursuing Morrisons’ strategic intentions of supporting British farmers and working with them. them to respect the company’s environmental commitments ”. .
“Sourcing from UK farms has long been a Morrisons heritage and it is reassuring that the potential buyer wants to continue upholding these core values in the future,” Batters said.
Fortress’s offer values Morrison’s shares at £ 6.3bn, before the inclusion of £ 3.2bn in net debt, for a total value of £ 9.5bn.
Morrison’s board accepted the offer earlier this month, after rejecting an earlier proposal by U.S. private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R). It is not clear whether CD&R will come back with a higher bid, or whether other private equity firms such as Apollo will also bid for the UK’s fourth largest supermarket chain.