County boss backs Co-op merger bid

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The boss of Lincolnshire Co-operative has backed plans for two regional societies to merge, creating possible turnover of more than £1 billion pounds a year.

Ursula Lidbetter MBE, chief executive of the county’s Co-operative Society said plans by Anglia and Midlands Co-operative to merge by the end of the year would bring benefits to a “new co-operative arrangement.”

Members of both societies are expected to vote on the plans over the next two months and if approved, the merger could take place as early as December.

Miss Lidbetter, who runs an organisation of 210,000 members across Lincolnshire, said: “We’ve enjoyed successful relationships with both Anglia and Midlands Co-operatives and both societies have strengths that they will bring to a new co-operative arrangement.

“If the merger is agreed by the members, we’ll look forward to working with the newly enlarged society and will wish them well for the future.”

Midlands Co-operative was named Co-operative of the Year in June, while its Anglia counterpart covers four counties, including Norfolk and Cambridgeshire.

Chief executive John Chilcott said: “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 have no doubt that this partnership will be a huge success financially and will bring many benefits to the communities which we have both served for so long.”

Martyn Cheatle, Midlands Co-operative chief executive, said: “In a highly competitive marketplace, the time is right for us to join forces.”