Plymouth Chief Executive Douglas Fletcher said the time was right to put down the foundations for the next 150 years of co-operative trading in the South West region by linking with the Group, which already operates a large number of stores and services in Devon and Cornwall.
Said Mr Fletcher: “With the society on course for record profits when we announce our 2008 trading results next month, what better time to secure our future than now?
“We have a robust business and a strong balance sheet, and by merging with the Group, our employees and members will enjoy the benefits and security of being part of an organisation with a £10 billion turnover.”
The proposed merger, which needs to be approved by Plymouth members and by the board of the Co-operative Group, continues the process of consolidation within the Movement that has seen the number of independent regional societies shrink dramatically over the past few years.
Added Mr Fletcher: “The Co-operative Group is spearheading the resurgence of the co-operative brand as a trusted and ethical alternative to big business and it is backing this with billions of pounds worth of investment in its stores. We want to be part of that success story, and we feel sure our members and employees do to.”
Welcoming the proposed merger, Co-operative Group Chief Executive Peter Marks said: “Plymouth and South West Co-operative is a very strong, well-run society and I’m delighted that its board and management share our vision of creating a successful Co-operative Group able to compete effectively in tough market conditions and ensure a strong future for all co-operative members and employees.”
The merger plan will be discussed at special meetings of PSW members in May and June and, if all goes according to plan, the transfer of engagements will take place in September.