The pace of consolidation in the co-operative retail sector is increasing, with Ipswich & Norwich Co-op and Colchester & East Essex Co-op set to become the latest to merge.
The move is scheduled for the end of next month, having been agreed by both boards. It follows the ratification of the merger of Oxford, Swindon & Gloucester Co-op and West-Midlands Co-op, to take effect on September 24.
And it comes as several co-ops are set to begin trialling a new ‘The Co-operative’ unified fascia (The Grocer, September 3, p8).
The transformed society will be called the East of England Co-op and will cover an area from Essex to Norfolk. It will have more than 200 trading outlets, including 116 food stores, and annual sales of more than £400m, making it the fifth largest UK co-operative society.
The merger is expected to be rubber-stamped at members meetings later this month and next month.
Chris Blanchett, CEO of the Colchester & East Essex society, will initially be CEO of the merged group. But he will retire in late 2006 to be replaced by Richard Samson, currently CEO of Ipswich & Norwich Co-op.