Merger will go ahead

IPSWICH and Norwich Co-op is set to become part of the fifth largest co-operative society in the UK after co-op members in Colchester and east Essex agreed to merge the two societies.

IPSWICH and Norwich Co-op is set to become part of the fifth largest co-operative society in the UK after co-op members in Colchester and east Essex agreed to merge the two societies.

The new East of England Co-operative Society, which will come into being on Sunday, will employ 5,000 people and have an annual turnover of £400million.

It will operate food and department stores and funeral, travel, pharmacy, optical, dairy and motor businesses throughout the region. The new society's 200 trading outlets will cover about 2,000 square miles of Suffolk, Essex and Norfolk.

Members of the Colchester and East Essex Co-operative voted in favour of the merger at a meeting in Colchester last night, confirming votes already held by members of the Ipswich and Norwich Co-op.

Richard Samson, currently chief executive of the Ipswich and Norwich Co-operative Society, will become chief executive designate before taking on the role of chief executive of the new co-operative when Colchester and East Essex Co-op chief executive Chris Blanchett retires in late 2006.

Mr Samson said: “We are delighted that the merger has received the wholehearted support of members and employees.

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“We appreciate the backing they have given to the proposals and are certain that the combined strength of the two societies will create a co-operative business ready to face the competitive challenges ahead.”

The merger plans received resounding support from co-op members in Suffolk, with 97per cent of members in favour of the proposal when votes were held in the county.

Mr Samson today pledged there would be no compulsory redundancies resulting from the merger for at least two years and he revealed plans to combine the two dividend schemes run by the co-operatives into a single scheme to allow members to share in the profits of the newly enlarged society.

Weblink: www.ipswich-norwich.coop

N What do you think of the merger? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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