Two of the south west of England's retail co-ops have announced that they have commenced discussions about a proposed merger.
Brixham Co-op and its larger neighbour, the Plymouth & South West Society are in talks which could lead to a merger going ahead in March 2006.
The Brixham Society runs six shops, together with a travel agency and the main Brixham Post Office.
A statement from Birxham said the society is "financially sound" but its directors have decided that, in the increasingly competitive retail climate, a merger with a larger organisation, such as the Plymouth & South West Society will be better in the long term for the maintenance of a strong co-operative presence in Brixham.
The proposed merger is also in line with the national policy of the Co-operative Movement, which encourages the development of large regionally based co-operative organisations.
Douglas Fletcher, the Chief Executive of the Plymouth & South West Society, said: "We have had a good relationship with our neighbouring co-operative society for many years. The Plymouth & South West Society already has a strong presence in Torbay, so this proposed merger makes a lot of commercial sense. We are looking forward to the opportunities that it will create."
Any merger will need the support of the Brixham members, and meetings are being arranged for early 2006. If approved, the merger will take effect on 26 March.
One of the factors behind the Brixham Society's decision to seek a merger is a planned development which will see the construction of a new supermarket in Brixham town centre. The Brixham Society did not have the resources to submit proposals for the scheme
The Plymouth & South West Society is already associated with one of the three short listed developers bidding to build a supermarket in Brixham town centre and this proposal has been welcomed by the board of the Brixham Society.
If approved this will be the third society merger inside a year following on from Midcounties and East of England mergers.