TWO of the UK's most successful co-operatives have announced their intention to merge. Oxford, Swindon & Gloucester Co-op and West Midlands Co-op will seek support for the merger from their members in July.
The merger would create the fourth largest co-operative in the UK, with a turnover of £ 500 million, over 350 stores and other business units, 7,000 employees and 175,000 members.
It would create a diverse society with eight trading divisions. Both societies operate food, travel and funeral services.
OSG has been involved in a number of different co-operative businesses including childcare and the .coop internet domain. OSG also manages a motor division.
While, West Midlands has been successful with its care home and pharmacy divisions.
However, both societies said they cannot guarantee that no jobs will be affected in the integration of the societies. West Midlands employs 2,200 people, while OSG has a workforce of 4,000. Any job losses are expected to "minimal" according to OSG.
But they said that they expect there to be a net gain in jobs as the new society expands its services to members
For the merger to take place, it will need to be approved by meetings of members being held in July and August.
Bob Burlton, the current OSG Chief Executive, will lead the management of the new Society until he steps down in the second half of 2006. Following the merger, Ben Reid of West Midlands Co-op will be appointed Chief Executive designate, and will take over from Bob Burlton in 2006.
OSG's President Vivian Woodell said: "Both societies share a vision of helping to create a strong and modern co-operative movement. We are convinced that the combined society will be more profitable and hence stronger than if we remain apart."
West Midlands' President Doreen Shaw added: "We are two co-operative societies that place very strong emphasis on making our co-operative values real in our everyday activities. We believe that there will be significant new opportunities to expand the society in the combined trading area, extending the co-operative service we can offer our members."
The new society would cover a trading area across central England. West Midlands Co-op, which is based in Walsall and operates across the Black Country, Worcestershire, Staffordshire and Shropshire.
OSG is based in Oxford, with trading outlets in Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and surrounding counties.
Dame Pauline Green, Chief Executive of Co-operatives UK, said: "We very much welcome this merger. It brings together two dynamic and successful co-operative businesses from a position of strength. By joining together the new merged society will be stronger, which can only be of benefit to the members, customers, employees and the local communities.
"This is the latest in a series of mergers from strength which shows that the Co-operative Movement is able to galvanise its resources to create the enterprising co-operative businesses the UK needs."
Both co-ops have strong traditions of promoting their co-operative identity, particularly through work in their local communities. They have worked together on a wide range of projects in the past.
In this article
- British co-operative movement
- chief executive
- Co-operatives UK
- Company Employees Number
- Company Location
- Consumers' cooperative
- Midcounties Co-operative
- Midlands Co-operative Society
- Pauline Green
- Social Issues
- The Co-operative brand
- The Co-operative Group