Central England Co-operative and the Midcounties Co-operative have agreed the terms of a deal to consolidate most of the Midcounties’ Funeralcare business into the larger Central England Funeralcare operation.
Central England says the deal will allow it to strengthen and build on its funeral services business, bringing its number of homes to 182, and extending its offering to other areas of the Midlands, the south west, and south east of England.
The transaction will see 50 Midcounties funeral homes and two vehicle logistics sites, as well as Midcounties’ Pre-Paid Funeral Plan Business, transfer to Central England, along with 252 colleagues – subject to consultation once the transaction is completed.
A similar arrangement between the two societies saw Central England’s travel business transfer to Midcounties in 2020.
Midcounties says it will continue to strengthen its strategic focus and investment on its travel, food, childcare, utilities and healthcare services, which are core to it member’s day-to-day needs.
The society plans to double the size of its childcare business over the next 5 years, and to build on its leading community energy offering while opening 50 new food stores and significantly investing in new digital services across its trading groups.
The transaction is subject to approval by the Competition and Markets Authority, which is expected to take several weeks, and during that time both Funeralcare businesses will operate as normal. Midcounties will use this time to consult with those colleagues affected by the agreement, as well as working to find solutions for the 17 Midcounties funeral homes not included in the proposed transfer.
Central England CEO Debbie Robinson said: “Subject to clearance from the CMA, on behalf of Central England Society, our board, and members, I look forwarding to welcoming all Midcounties Funeralcare colleagues, clients, and members.
“We feel great respect and appreciation for the care that those involved in Funeralcare have shown for the deceased, and the support they have offered to bereaved families, over the last year especially.
“We will work hard as a society to continue to offer the highest standards of care and support to our members, clients, and our new team members, in providing accessible, relevant funeral services for all.”
Midcounties Group CEO Phil Ponsonby said: “We’re enormously proud and thankful for the commitment of our Funeralcare colleagues, particularly during the last year when they have shown remarkable strength and versatility to support the bereaved in such challenging times.
“We have made a number of significant strategic investments in our core businesses in recent months, with acquisitions and new openings in travel, food retail and childcare, and have been considering the best way to ensure a strong and sustainable co-operative offering for our Funeralcare clients. Central England operates a Funeralcare offering twice the size of Midcounties and if this transfer is approved, our Board feel it will result in greater investment and focus for our homes and significant support for our colleagues to take the business forward.
“Crucially, Central England shares our co-operative values and, like us, puts its members and colleagues at the heart of everything it does. Therefore, it was clear that this agreement would represent the best outcome for our members, clients, and colleagues.”
The Midcounties homes and vehicle logistics centres (VLC) that will transfer to CEC if the agreement is approved are:
- Whitehouse Common, Sutton Coldfield.
- Thomas Ely, Willenhall
- Penn Road
- Stourport Bridge Street
- Blackbird Leys
- Swindon Old Town
- Swindon Cricklade Road
- Aldridge VLC
- Watery Lane VLC