Home Bargains founder buys 5,000 acres in Lancashire to help farmers "grow and promote British produce"

Home Bargains chief Tom Morris pictures in 2001. (L-R)- Joe Morris, Francis O'Brien, Tom Morris, Christopher Fox
Tom Morris (third from left) pictured in 2001. Credit: Liverpool Echo.

A company set up by the billionaire founder of a discount retail empire has bought nearly 5,000 acres of land from the Church of England to help farmers "grow and promote British produce".

Home Bargains chief Tom Morris, 67, is the director of The Halsall Estate Limited, which was incorporated in January and has bought 4,960 acres at Halsall, West Lancashire, in a deal which could be worth up to £50 million.

The land was sold by the Church Commissioners, which administers the property assets of the Church of England and manages around 95,000 acres of land and an £8.7 billion investment fund.

It is not clear how many farmers currently operate on the Halsall Estate, but all agricultural producers and others renting on it "have been assured that the terms of their existing tenancies will be honoured", a spokesman said.

The cut-price high street chain, which employs more than 25,000 people across 525 stores in the UK Credit: Press Association

Mr Morris, who shuns the limelight, is one of seven siblings born to a Liverpool shopkeeper and founded Home Bargains in the city in 1976. His brother, Joseph, is its operations director.

The cut-price high street chain, which employs more than 25,000 people across 525 stores in the UK, sells everything from designer perfumes to dress-up costumes and dog kennels, paddling pools and power tools to its four million customers per week.

The Morris family has a £4.1 billion fortune, according to The Sunday Times Rich List - more than the combined wealth of retail tycoons Mike Ashley and Sir Philip Green.

A spokesman for the Church Commissioners for England said it had "completed on the sale of 4,960 acres of land at Halsall, West Lancashire."

"All parties affected have been notified and where tenancies are in place these will remain," he added.

The Halsall Estate Limited is registered at the Liverpool office of TJ Morris, the Home Bargains parent company.