Co-operative merger could create third-largest supermarket in the Netherlands

The two co-ops estimate that the merger will help them save around €50 million a year

Dutch co-operatives Plus and Coop have agreed to merge into a single co-operative under the brand Plus.

Should the merger be approved, the new co-op would be the third-largest retail chain in the country with a network of 550 stores and a 10% market share. The organisation’s headquarters would be in Utrecht.

The two co-ops estimate that the merger will help them save around €50m (£43m) annually.

“We are proud that with this merger we can further expand our unique position in the Dutch supermarket landscape,” said Fred Bosch, general manager of Coop. “In this highly competitive and consolidating market, scaling up offers both companies more clout. We are convinced that we can achieve our ambitions together optimally for and with our members: independent entrepreneurs and consumers.”

Duncan Hoy, general manager of Plus, said: “As co-operatives, Plus and Coop are close to their customers.” He added that the new co-op would place an “even greater focus on convenience, inspiration and quality”.

Mr Hoy will become the CEO of the new co-op, while Mr Bosch will be its chief financial officer. The business will be overseen by a supervisory board that will have representatives from both organisations.

Plus is a co-operative of supermarket entrepreneurs. The stores that operate under the Plus brand are owned and run by 259 ‘independent entrepreneurs’ who are all members of the co-operative. Coop runs more than 300 supermarkets across the Netherlands. Both Coop and Plus are members of the Dutch wholesale purchasing cooperative Superunie.

Kees Wantenaar, chair of the board of Plus, said the merger would create “a strong co-operative”. He added: “This is an extremely customer-oriented supermarket with sustainable business operations.” 

Nico Korswagen, chair of the board of Coop, said the merger was “good news for all stakeholders.”

The merger has yet to be approved by the members of the two co-ops as well as the Dutch competition authority.