SHEFFIELD Co-op, with a turnover of £ 95 million and a workforce of over 1,200, has announced that it is proposing to merge with United Co-operatives.
The proposal will be presented to members at a special meeting in the city on Monday October 2nd. If approved, this will be followed by a confirmatory meeting on Tuesday October 17th.
Providing members back the proposal, the merger would take effect from late January, 2007.
In a letter to members and staff, Sheffield
Co-op Chief Executive Mike Howarth and President Jack Whitham state: "Two strong societies coming together for an even stronger future ? that's the exciting vision behind the proposed merger between Sheffield Society and United
"The Board and management believe the proposal will bring significant benefits to the members, staff and the communities in which we operate.
"The new society would have the resources to develop the co-operative presence in South Yorkshire in a more effective way than either society could if they continued alone.
"As part of that process, it is envisaged that a Regional Office will be created in Sheffield. This will be staffed and managed by Sheffield Society staff and would cover the whole of South Yorkshire."
Mr Howarth and Mr Whitham add that being part of a larger, more diverse business will increase career opportunities for Sheffield Co-op staff and with the increased profits which the enlarged society would produce, there would be the ability to support more member and community activities in the region.
United Chief Executive Peter Marks told the News: "I am delighted the Board of Sheffield Society is proposing a merger from strength with United Co-operatives. Sheffield is a successful, well-managed society with excellent staff.
"There is a very a good fit between the two businesses. United Co-operatives food distribution vehicles already cover the area served by Sheffield Society stores. The proposed merger is an excellent opportunity to develop co-operation even more effectively throughout South Yorkshire."
Mr Marks added that both societies were community retailers with significant food businesses at their heart and also have complementary travel and funeral interests.
"If the merger is approved," he said, "we would look forward to working together to the benefit of members and customers throughout the enlarged society."