East Anglia/Midlands: Votes pave way for merger of two co-ops

Anglia Co-op's legal merger with Midlands co-op took a step closer at the weekend after members vote

Anglia Co-op's legal merger with Midlands co-op took a step closer at the weekend after members voted on the idea - Credit: Anglia Co-operative

Two co-operatives have paved the way for a legal merger after a series of votes by members.

Lichfield-based Midlands Co-operative Society joined with Anglia Co-operative, based at Peterborough, yesterday. The move marks the creation of one of the largest UK co-operative societies, with projected gross sales of £1billion, 329,000 regular trading members, and more than 500,000 weekly customers across 16 counties.

The legal merger is a result of months of planning and collaboration between the two societies and received overwhelming support from members of both societies. The focus of the society over coming months will be on the gradual integration and harmonisation of the two organisations, co-op bosses said.

Martyn Cheatle, chief executive of the newly formed society, described it as “a really positive step” for both societies.

“It is extremely reassuring to know that so many of our members and colleagues see the huge potential that joining gives us. Our increased scale, resource and financial strength make us even better placed to compete and our ‘best of the best’ approach means that we can harness the considerable strengths of both societies to embark on a new period of opportunity and growth and provide even greater opportunities for our members and colleagues,” he said.

Ed Mayo, secretary general of Co-operatives UK, added: “This is great news for the members of the two consumer societies, their customers and the whole co-operative sector. Both Anglia and Midlands Co-operatives are independent societies with a strong commercial track record who will be even stronger by joining together. They will be forming a dynamic new independent society trading across a wide geographic area of Britain and we are confident that they will continue to succeed.”

Work is now underway to adopt a new name for the merged society which is expected to take place in early 2014. The name is being chosen with the input of colleagues and members.

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A members’ survey is currently running offering members of the newly formed society the chance to have a say on what the societies new name will be. The survey can be accessed via the co-ops’ websites: www.Midlands.coop and www.arcs.co.uk