THE BOARD of Lothian Borders & Angus Co-operative Society announced on Tuesday that it has agreed to seek to transfer engagements to The Co-operative Group.

The proposed transfer will be considered by Lothian Borders & Angus members at a series of meetings in the autumn.

The Society operates 66 food, pharmacy, petrol, funeral and non-food outlets and employs approximately 1,200 staff, including operations locally. At January 28, 2008, its turnover was 123 million and its operating profit was just over 4 million.

Bob Jamieson, chief executive officer of Lothian Borders & Angus Co-operative Society, said: "We are approaching this proposed merger from a position of considerable strength. We have a robust trading position and a strong balance sheet but we believe that the best way to maintain co-operative trading in the areas in which we operate is to seek this merger now.

"We also believe that the long-term future of the Co-operative Movement is best served by greater consolidation, with the ultimate objective of creating one highly successful society covering the whole of the UK. By proposing this merger from strength, we believe we can help bring that objective about.

"The Group would integrate our operations into theirs, but as we both share a common co-operative heritage I am confident that our members and regular shoppers can only benefit from the extended services offered by the Group."

Peter Marks, chief executive of The Co-operative Group, said: "Lothian Borders & Angus is a very strong, well-run society and I am delighted that its board and management share our vision of creating a strong Co-operative Group able to compete effectively in tough market conditions."

He concluded: "We also believe that the proposed merger will be of enormous benefit to the communities which Lothian Borders & Angus has served with distinction over many years."