East Anglia: The Anglia Co-operative Society unveils plans to merge with the Midlands Co-op

Anglia Co-op is planning to merge with the neighbouring Midlands society.

Anglia Co-op is planning to merge with the neighbouring Midlands society. - Credit: Archant

Anglia Co-operative Society and the neighbouring Midlands Co-operative Society have revealed merger plans which, if approved by their members, will create a combined business with annual sales of £1billion.

The Anglia society, based in Peterborough, operates in Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk and north Suffolk, with its businesses including food stores, filling stations, travel, funeral services and opticians.

Among its outlets are food stores in Eye, Rickinghall, Bungay and Pakefield and filling stations in Stowupland, Halesworth and Beccles.

Midlands Co-operative Society, which in June this year was named Co-operative of the Year by Co-operatives UK in recognition of its strong business performance, is based in Litchfield, Staffordshire, and operates across the west and east Midlands, with a major food distribution centre in Leicester.

Anglia Co-op chief executive John Chillcott said: “As well as having many similarities from a business and organisational point of view, our two societies also have the benefit of a shared cultural and ethical perspective.

“Having already spent many years working together in co-operation to the benefit of both societies, I have no doubt that this partnership will be a huge success financially and will bring many benefits to the communities which we have both served for so long.”

Martyn Cheatle, chief executive of Midlands Co-op, added: “In a highly competitive marketplace, the time is right for us to join forces. Both societies are strong within their respective trading areas and combined would create one of the most successful co-operative societies in the country.

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“We believe that this move provides a fantastic opportunity to secure the long-term future of our societies and will allow us to accelerate our plans for growth and development. By pooling our resources, we will be better placed to develop our competitive advantage, protect our existing business, and move forward with investment and expansion on a greater scale.

“Above all we would be one of the largest independent co-operative societies in the sector with 339,000 regular trading members and 500,000 weekly customers across 16 counties and we believe that this will make us even better placed to deliver on our commitment to invest in local communities and engage with our members.”

The merger is subject approval by the membership of both societies at a series of special meetings to be held in October and November. If approved, the merger would become effective from December 2013.

The merged society would have more than 329,000 regular trading members and around 8,600 employees and would include 227 food stores, 23 filling stations, 22 post offices, 113 funeral homes, 21 travel shops, nine florists, three opticians and two motor dealerships.