Co-operative Travel, the retail travel division of Midcounties Co-operative, has agreed to take on 16 Central England Co-op stores and their employees – and reopen them by mid-August, subject to consultation.
The 16 shops, which have supported more than 25,000 customers over the past 12 months, will reopen under the Co-operative Travel brand.
The move will see Midcounties consolidate its position as the UK’s largest travel co-operative, increasing its Co-operative Travel store count to more than 70.
New branches will "complement" existing trading areas, Co-operative Travel said on Thursday (9 July), and will significantly increase its presence in the east of England.
In total, 78 Central England Co-op staff will join Co-operative Travel as a result of the agreement, which the business said was part of a "wider co-operative movement to reduce costs".
Rad Sofronijevic, chief operating officer of Midcounties Co-operative’s travel division, said: “Travel is core to Midcounties’ long-term strategy.
"When we learned Central England Co-operative was looking to emphasise its focus on other divisions and move away from travel, we wanted to take the opportunity to bring these branches under the Midcounties retail umbrella and further strengthen our offering.
"With our scale and expertise, we look forward to helping grow and nurture the former Central England Co-operative branches to ensure their success in the future."
A Central England Co-operative spokesperson added: “Central England and Midcounties have a longstanding and positive relationship, with Central England recently joining Midcounties’ travel buying consortium following the demise of Thomas Cook.
"The coming together of the two businesses will enable the continuation of a Co-operative travel offer for our members and customers and the continued employment for a number of colleagues."
The majority of Midcounties’ existing Co-operative Travel branches have now re-opened, with those remaining due to reopen on Monday (13 July).
All new branches joining from Central England Co-operative will open by mid-August, and will operate using a new customer appointment system implemented across all Midcounties’ Co-operative Travel shops since they reopened.
Natalie Turner, head of branches for Co-operative Travel, said: “The branches are well located, and allow Midcounties’ Co-operative Travel to expand our presence across several new counties in England.
"We look forward to welcoming our new colleagues into the fold, helping them to navigate the new normal in travel and grow and succeed under Midcounties’ retail Co-operative Travel umbrella.”
The 16 branches set to transfer to Midcounties Co-operative are: Allenton (Derbyshire); Atherstone (Warwickshire); Beccles and Lowestoft (Suffolk), Castle Donington, Glenfield, Ibstock and Whetstone (Leicestershire); Diss, Kings Lynn and Thetford (Norfolk); Erdington (West Midlands); Market Deeping (Lincolnshire); Oakham (Rutland); and March and Peterborough (Cambridgeshire).