Midcounties Co-operative agrees in principle to transfer its funeralcare business to Central England Co-operative
- 50 Midcounties funeral homes transferring to Central England.
- CEC will expand its footprint in the Midlands, the Southwest, and Southeast of England.
Central England Co-operative (CEC) and the Midcounties Co-operative (Midcounties) have agreed the terms of a transaction that will consolidate the majority of Midcounties’ Funeralcare business into the larger CEC Funeralcare operation.
The transfer will allow CEC to strengthen and build upon its highly regarded funeral services business, bringing the number of homes operated by CEC to 182, and extending CEC’s offering to other areas of the Midlands, the Southwest and Southeast of England. This will allow CEC's Funeralcare offering to reach a greater number of members and clients.
The transaction will see 50 Midcounties funeral homes and two vehicle logistics sites, as well as Midcounties' Pre-Paid Funeral Plan Business, transfer to CEC. Under the agreement, 252 colleagues who work in Midcounties Funeralcare will join CEC, subject to consultation once the transaction is completed. A similar arrangement between the two Societies resulted in CEC’s travel business transferring to Midcounties in 2020.
For its part, Midcounties will continue to strengthen its strategic focus and investment on its Travel, Food, Childcare, Utilities and Healthcare services, which are core to it member’s day-to-day needs. The Society plans to double the size of its childcare business over the next 5 years, and to build on its leading community Energy offering while also opening 50 new food stores and significantly investing in new digital services across its trading groups.
The transaction is subject to approval by the CMA, which is expected to take several weeks, and during that time both the Midcounties and CEC Funeralcare businesses will continue to operate as normal. Midcounties will use this time to consult with those colleagues affected by the agreement, as well as working to find solutions for the 17 Midcounties funeral homes not included in the proposed transfer.
Debbie Robinson, Chief Executive of Central England Co-operative, said:
“Subject to clearance from the CMA, on behalf of Central England Society, our Board, and members, I look forwarding to welcoming all Midcounties Funeralcare colleagues, clients, and members.
We feel great respect and appreciation for the care that those involved in Funeralcare have shown for the deceased, and the support they have offered to bereaved families, over the last year especially.
We will work hard as a Society to continue to offer the highest standards of care and support to our members, clients, and our new team members, in providing accessible, relevant funeral services for all.
Phil Ponsonby, Group Chief Executive of the Midcounties Co-operative, said:
“We’re enormously proud and thankful for the commitment of our Funeralcare colleagues, particularly during the last year when they have shown remarkable strength and versatility to support the bereaved in such challenging times.
“We have made a number of significant strategic investments in our core businesses in recent months, with acquisitions and new openings in travel, food retail and childcare, and have been considering the best way to ensure a strong and sustainable co-operative offering for our Funeralcare clients. Central England operates a Funeralcare offering twice the size of Midcounties and if this transfer is approved, our Board feel it will result in greater investment and focus for our homes and significant support for our colleagues to take the business forward.
“Crucially, Central England shares our co-operative values and, like us, puts its members and colleagues at the heart of everything it does. Therefore, it was clear that this agreement would represent the best outcome for our members, clients, and colleagues.”
The Midcounties homes and vehicle logistics centres (VLC) that will transfer to CEC if the agreement is approved are:
- Whitehouse Common, Sutton Coldfield.
- Thomas Ely, Willenhall
- Penn Road
- Stourport Bridge Street
- Blackbird Leys
- Swindon Old Town
- Swindon Cricklade Road
- Vehicle Logistic Centres
- Aldridge VLC
- Watery Lane VLC
NOTES TO EDITORS
About Central England Co-operative
Central England Co-operative is one of the largest independent retail co-operative societies in the UK with interests in food, funeral, floral and property investment. It is owned by hundreds of thousands of members and has almost 8000 colleagues operating across more than 400 sites.
The Society is a signed-up member to the Business in the Community (BITC) Race at Work Charter, has generated enough food to create over 2.1 million meals for those who need and is the only supermarket in the UK to achieve the Carbon Trust Triple Standard.
The Society has its Support Centre in Lichfield, Staffordshire and operates across 16 counties in the East and West Midlands, Yorkshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire, and Cambridgeshire.
The Society purpose is to inspire communities to create a sustainable Society for all; a strong and successful Society that is invested in protecting the environment and the wellbeing of all its colleagues, members, and customers.
About The Midcounties Co-operative
The Midcounties Co-operative operates the 'Your Co-op' family of businesses, which includes food retail, travel, childcare, utilities, pharmacy, Co-operative Flexible Benefits, and several post offices. Midcounties is one of the largest independent co-operative societies in the UK and has more than 500 sites and 700,000 members.
In February 2021, the Society was named as the Business of the Year at the edie 2021 Sustainability Leaders Awards in recognition of its work to create a sustainable future and support local communities.
The Society has headquarters in Warwickshire, with trading outlets in Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Shropshire, West Midlands, Avon, Somerset, Dorset, Worcestershire, and the surrounding counties.
The Society's mission statement is 'To be a successful consumer co-operative working towards creating a better, fairer world, and to enhance the lives of our colleagues, members, customers, and the communities we serve.