Members of the Co-operative Group and United Co-operatives have given the proposed merger of the two societies a firm thumbs-up.

United Co-op members voted 91% in favour of the merger at meetings held across the Midlands and northern England, while Co-op Group members voted 90% for the deal at a special general meeting.

"The board and I are delighted members have given the merger proposal such a resounding endorsement," said Co-op Group chairman Bob Burlton.

"As one society we will be able to provide first-class products and services to our members and deliver on our social goals agenda."

United Co-op president Bill Hoult added: "The size of the vote in favour clearly demonstrates that members share the board's vision of creating the world's largest - and then the most successful - co-operative business."

Members of United Co-op will be asked to confirm their support at meetings later this month. The societies are expected to merge by the end of July.