Co-ops in potential merger talks
The UK's two biggest co-operatives are reported to have began talks that could lead to a merger.
The Co-operative Group, based in Manchester, and Rochdale-based United Co-operatives have not given any reasons for the talks.
Any merger between the organisations would create a group with more than 4,000 outlets, offering everything from food to funerals.
"The boards of the Co-operative Group and United Co-operatives have agreed to discuss the possibility of a merger between their two societies," the groups said in a statement.
"Talks have commenced and a further statement from the two boards will be issued when they conclude."
The Co-operative Group is the UK's largest, with an annual turnover of £8bn. United Co-operatives earns £2.5bn a year.
Should the merger go ahead then the members would received a windfall payout.
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