Leave independent co-op stores alone

Colin Richell Member, The Co-operative Group Sir; Your article on the merger of the Co-operative Group and United Co-operatives was very thought provoking ('United at last... but will others co-operate?', The Grocer, 28 July, p24). I have recently had a letter published in our own Co-operative News in which I expressed the view that the independent co-operative societies should be left alone and not co-erced into merging with a larger society. You quite rightly state there is no advantage in increased purchasing power, because most societies purchase through the Co-operative Retail Trading Group. I am sure that most smaller societies fear that if they are part of a larger one, stores and subsidiary businesses that they have cherished will be closed because the trading strategy does not equate with their own. Members of the Co-operative Group wonder why Peter Marks, the new society's CEO, is worrying about a single society, which will not happen in his or my lifetime, when he needs to concentrate on integrating the two businesses. He will have our full support to achieve this.