Plymouth & South West Co-operative Society has become the latest regional society to join forces with the might of The Co-operative Group.

The society, which has 67 foodstores in Devon and Cornwall, said the “time was right“ for the merger following The Co-op Group's £1.57bn acquisition of Somerfield three weeks ago.

“With the society on course for record profits when we announce our 2008 trading results next month, what better time to secure our future than now,“ said CEO Douglas Fletcher.

“We have a robust business and a strong balance sheet, and by merging with the group our employees and members will enjoy the benefits and security of being part of an organisation with a £10bn turnover.”

 “The Co-operative Group is spearheading the resurgence of the Co-operative brand, in the UK, as a trusted and ethical alternative to big business, and it is backing this with £bns worth of investment in its stores,“ he added. “We want to be part of that success story, and we feel sure our members and employees do to.”

Plymouth & South West Co-op is the second co-op society to join forces with The Co-op Group since it announced its intention to buy Somerfield in July last year. In December Lothian Borders & Angus Co-op merged with The Co-op Group.

Added Peter Marks, CEO of The Co-op Group: “Plymouth and South West  is a very strong, well-run society and I’m delighted that its board and management share our vision of creating a successful Co-operative Group able to compete effectively in tough market conditions, and ensure a strong future for all co-operative members and employees.

The merger is expected to take place in September, following member meetings in May and June.