CONGRESS 2006 will be held at the Co-operative Group's New Century House headquarters in Manchester for the third time since the dawn of the new millennium.
While it is understood that Co-operatives UK plans to maintain its policy of taking the Movement's annual showpiece event around the country, next year's choice of Manchester is in tune with the general "belt tightening" mood within the sector because of the fiercely competitive retailing environment.
Although figures relating to the cost of staging this year's Congress at the Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, are not yet available, Co-operatives UK chairman Ben Reid revealed that, last year, when the event was staged at Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium, there was a net loss on the weekend of £ 11,000 due to the high cost – over £ 141,000 – of hiring the various rooms and facilities for fringe meetings and workshops.
However in 2003, when Congress was staged at New Century House, a net surplus of £ 8,000 was achieved.
A Co-operatives UK spokesman confirmed the return to Manchester's Co-op complex next year for the weekend of May 19th to 22nd, and pointed out that Congress is not intended to generate funds for the organisers.
"Some years we are marginally over budget and sometimes marginally under," he said. "In reality, Congress is a seen as a break-even project and we have already been looking at how New Century House can be innovatively used to meet the needs of Congress next year."