from Colin Richell, member, The Co-operative Group

Sir; I have been very interested to read the various articles in your magazine recently about the co-operative movement's ideas about retailing unity and in fact I have written a letter to The Co-operative News about the subjects that you mention.

A national society will not happen in our lifetime, so why does United Co-operatives chief executive Peter Marks bring the subject up at this time?

I understand that customers might be confused, but many societies have their name above the door, and if the product range and price are right, people are not that worried.

The confusion arises when one society will not accept another's dividend card.

The old London Co-op sold out to CRS, which subsequently became the Co-operative Group. The joint estates of these two societies have virtually disappeared, and this would happen if smaller successful societies were forced to join a national society.