The proposed transfer will be considered by society members at a series of meetings in the autumn.
Lothian Borders & Angus Society operates 66 food, pharmacy, petrol, funeral and non-food outlets and employs around 1,200 staff. At the end of January its turnover was £123 million and its operating profit was just over £4m. As well as trading in the Lothian Borders and Angus areas of Scotland, the society also operates stores in Grampian and Dumfriesshire.
Chief Executive Bob Jamieson told the News: “We are approaching this proposed merger from a position of considerable strength. We have a robust trading position and a strong balance sheet, but we believe that the best way to maintain co-operative trading in the areas in which we operate is to seek this merger now.
“We also believe that the long-term future of the Co-operative Movement is best served by greater consolidation, with the ultimate objective of creating one highly successful society covering the whole of the UK. By proposing this merger from strength, we believe we can help bring that objective about.”
Mr Jamieson said that, provided the proposed transfer of engagements receives the necessary backing of members, the Group will integrate the society’s operations into theirs. He added: “As we both share a common co-operative heritage, I am confident that our members and regular shoppers can only benefit from the extended services offered by the Group.”
Co-operative Group Chief Executive Peter Marks, a strong supporter of the single society idea, warmly welcomed the LBA directors’ announcement.
He said: “Lothian Borders & Angus is a very strong, well-run society and I am delighted that its Board and management share our vision of creating a strong Co-operative Group able to compete effectively in tough market conditions.
“Following the success of last year’s merger of the Group and United Co-operatives, the benefits of which are already being seen in this year’s results, I am sure that further consolidation in the UK Co-operative Movement is the best way to ensure a strong future for all co-operative members and employees. We also believe that the proposed merger will be of enormous benefit to the communities which Lothian Borders & Angus has served with distinction over many years.”