Anglia and Midlands co-operatives in merger talks

Two of Britain's biggest retail co-operatives have announced plans to merge.

Two of Britain's biggest retail co-operatives have announced plans to merge.

Midlands, which is the second largest independent, and Anglia, the eighth, will be proposing the merger to its members later this year.

If successful, the move will result in a society with a projected gross turnover of nearly a billion pounds a year and a core retail business consisting of over a hundred funeral homes and nearly 250 stores and filling stations, in addition to a number of other significant business interests.

The UK's largest independent society, Midcounties, announced earlier this year that it had surpassed a turnover of £1 billion. So it is expected this new merger will be the second largest independent.

Midlands was named Co-operative of the Year by Co-operatives UK in June in recognition of its strong business performance, and Anglia has a diverse portfolio of successful businesses across four counties in the Anglia region.

Martyn Cheatle, Chief Executive of Midlands, said: “In a highly competitive marketplace, the time is right for us to join forces.  Both societies are strong within their respective trading areas and combined would create one of the most successful co-operative societies in the country.

"We believe this move provides a fantastic opportunity to secure the long-term future of our societies and will allow us to accelerate our plans for growth and development. Our vision is to be the best co-operative in the UK and the number of awards we have received for excellence over recent years is testament to our progress towards this goal. 

"Anglia Co-operative has a similarly impressive track record and this partnership gives us a rare and unique opportunity to capitalise on the strengths of both organisations.  By pooling our resources, we will be even better placed to develop our competitive advantage, protect our existing businesses, deliver high levels of service to our customers, and move forward with investment and expansion.”

The merger would create one of the largest independent co-operative societies in the sector with 329,000 regular trading members and 500,000 weekly customers across 16 counties.

John Chillcott, Chief Executive of Anglia, added: “As well as having many similarities from a business and organisational point of view, our two societies also have the benefit of a shared cultural and ethical perspective.

"Having already spent many years working together in co-operation to the benefit of both societies, I believe this partnership will be a huge success financially and make us even better placed to deliver on our commitment to invest in local communities and engage with our members.”

The merger can only take place if approved by members from both societies.  As part of the democratic process members will have the chance to vote at a series of special meetings to be held in October and November.  If members of both societies approve the proposal for the merger, the legal formation of the merged Society is planned for early December.

Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, welcomed the proposed merger. He said: "This is a very co-operative merger, voluntary not forced, of two equal and successful independent societies. They are coming together because, for members and in commercial terms, they can be better together. Independent consumer co-operatives have a strong commercial track record at present and if this merger proceeds, then we will have a dynamic new, independent society trading across a wide geographic area of Britain."

Key facts about the merged society
Projected gross sales of £1 billion
Over 329,000 regular trading members
Over 8,600 employees
500,000 customers served every week
227 food stores, 23 fuel filling stations and 22 post offices
2 food distribution centres
113 funeral homes, 9 florists, 5 masonry outlets, 1 coffin factory and 1 crematorium
21 travel shops
3 opticians
1 hair salon
2 motor dealerships
1 specialist vehicle building business

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