Anglia Regional Co-operative Society

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Anglia Regional
Co-operative Society Limited
Consumer Co-operative
Industry Retail (Wholesale)
Fate Merged with Midlands Co-operative Society
Successor Central England Co-operative
Founded 1876 (Incorporated 1887)
Defunct 2013
Headquarters Burch House,
Saville Road, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire PE3 7PR
Key people
Harry Whitelock, Chairman
John Chillcott, Chief Executive
Products Grocer, Travel Agent, Funeral Director, Ophthalmic Optician
Revenue £257 million (2007)
Number of employees
3,700 (2006 approx.)
Website at the Wayback Machine (archived 26 September 2013)

Anglia Regional Co-operative Society Limited was the fifth largest consumer co-operative in the United Kingdom. It was formed by the merger of the Greater Peterborough Regional and Anglia (formerly Waveney) co-operative societies in 1987. The Society had a wide-ranging and extensive portfolio with over 80 stores, principally trading in East Anglia.[1] Head office was located at Westgate House, Peterborough until 2011.

The Society was a registered Industrial and Provident Society,[2] a member of the Co-operative Union, the Co-operative Retail Trading Group and a corporate member of The Co-operative Group (formerly Co-operative Wholesale Society), the largest consumer co-operative in the world.[3]

On 19 September 2013, it was announced that the boards of Anglia Co-operative Society and Midlands Co-operative Society had agreed merger terms. Approved by members on 4 and 18 November, legal completion of the merger took place on 1 December, with the Society transferring engagements to Midlands Co-operative.[4] On 15 January 2014, members of the merged society approved a change of name to Central England Co-operative effective from 25 January 2014.[5]


Under its rules, “The objects of the Society are to carry on the business of a store-keeper, general dealer and universal provider in all its branches, and in particular to buy, sell, manufacture, produce, grow, cultivate and deal in goods, stores, consumable articles, chattels and effects of all kinds, both wholesale and retail and generally to engage in any business, trade or industry which may seem to the Society directly or indirectly conducive to the interests or convenience of the Society's members or any section thereof.”[6] In addition, the aims stated, “The Society shall at all times conduct its business and affairs in accordance with the Rochdale Principles of Co-operation, as published from time to time by the International Co-operative Alliance, serving the needs of its customers, employees and the communities in which it trades.”[7] In practice, the Society’s principal undertakings at the time of merger with the Midlands Society, besides food and fuel retail, comprised the provision of funeral, optical, travel and foreign exchange services.[8] Its previous engagements include department and furniture stores, motor car dealerships, dispensing chemists, dairy and bakery.[9]


In 2004, United Co-operatives, based in the North West of England, announced that it no longer intended to include department stores in its primary strategy, leading to the sale of seven stores, mostly inherited from the Yorkshire Co-operative Society, to the Anglia Society.[10] In 2005, the Co-operative Group also announced its decision to exit the department store sector and, in 2006, a further seven stores, this time located in the South East of England, were transferred to the Anglia Society.[11][12] The Group subsequently merged with United in 2007. Thus, through acquisition, many Westgate branches were situated further afield than the core Eastern region.

The name was taken from the Society's late nineteenth century headquarters, home of the original Westgate House Department Store on Park Road, Peterborough.

In 2007, the Society—by now the largest in the non-food sector—formed the Anglia Buying Service, making its buying and logistics expertise available to other co-operatives.[13] In 2008, it launched an electronic commerce venture, selling bedroom, living and dining room furniture, with free delivery throughout Great Britain.[14]


Established as the home furnishings division of the Peterborough Society in 1979, AHF became an independent member of the co-operative family in 2011.

In 2011, the business of 19 Westgate Department Stores, including Contact Electrical and Comfortmaker Textile Superstores was divested to J E Beale for £7.5m. Ownership of the freehold properties remained with the Society, which continued to operate AHF furniture and carpets, Co-operative Travel, Westgate Optical and Stylistics hair and beauty concessions; Beales committed to maintain and honour the dividend at these branches, until replaced by their Love Rewards scheme the following year.[15] The Co-operative Home store in Hartlepool and Westgate stores at Blyth, Scunthorpe and March were not included in the sale. The site of the March store was sold to Reef Estates and the premises leased to W Boyes & Co, although the Co-operative Travel branch previously based there was unaffected, relocating to its own premises.[16] The Hartlepool store closed when the Society's 10-year lease expired later that year.[17] The Blyth and Scunthorpe stores continued to trade as Westgate for the time being due to devalued freehold and a long running lease, although it was reported that management were “reviewing the format and pursuing any opportunities that give the stores and the staff the best prospects for the future.”[18] A buyer was eventually found for the Blyth store, but not as a going concern and it ceased trading in 2013.[19] Central England Co-operative finally disposed of the Scunthorpe store to Oldrids & Co. in 2016.[20]

Later in 2011, AHF Home Furnishings was transferred to Anglia Home Furnishings Holdings as a going concern. A partner of the Society, Anglia Home Furnishings is the largest employee-owned co-operative in the UK.[21] The sale included ARCS Internet, trading as Co-op Furniture, the online store of AHF and Westgate, which was renamed AHF Internet.[22]


Co-operative societies are owned and controlled by their members on the principle of one member one vote and the Anglia Society operated on that basis, giving all members equal voting rights. Each member was required to hold at least one share of £1 which was paid in full on entering the Society. Organisations were also eligible to join.[23] Agreed by the membership, the Society's rules provided for a board of ten, three of whom may have been employees of the Society, to be elected by the annual general meeting. The full board met monthly and sub-committees met quarterly or less frequently.[24]

Dividend is a share of the profits made by the Society. The rate of dividend was recommended to members by the board of directors and put to a vote. Members had an opportunity at the point of sale to donate their dividend to the Anglia Co-operative Community Fund (Share 600), the proceeds of which were presented each year to three or four charities nominated by the board.[25] It was paid annually and a warrant placed in the share account wallet on receipt.

The Co-operative Group relaunched its own membership scheme in 2006. In 2008, the Anglia Society joined the new scheme under a reciprocal arrangement. The Society began allocating dividend through the card scheme, which members were able to use nationally at participating societies. This included food purchases, on which the Society had not previously paid dividend.[26] A new rule book based on Co-operativesUK 12th edition model rules was approved by the membership and registered with the Financial Services Authority in 2009.[27] The Midlands Society also operated the membership scheme and similar arrangements continue with Central England Co-operative.

Anglia Regional Co-operative Party organise in Peterborough and west Norfolk.[28]


In 2008, Rainbow supermarkets and Co-op Local stores began the process of re-branding as The Co-operative Food whilst remaining part of the Anglia Co-operative Society. In 2011, adjacent petrol filling stations, previously supplied by Shell, moved across to Total, aligning buying with the Co-operative Retail Trading Group. The Co-operative Travel at Anglia Co-operative Society was a trading name of the Freedom Travel Group which, in 2012, became part of the Thomas Cook Group.

Division Outlets
The Co-operative Food 27 (including 8 filling stations)
The Co-operative Travel 15 (plus 10 bureaux de change)
Anglia Co-operative Funerals 25
Westgate Department Stores 23
Westgate Opticians Peterborough, St. Neots and Hunstanton
Stylistics Hair and Beauty Salon Peterborough

The Anglia Co-operative Funeral group incorporates R J Scholes (Bourne, Deeping St. James and Stamford), Harvey Brothers (Bungay), J H Landin & Son (Chatteris), A Coley & Son (Crowland), George James & Son (March), Watkins & Stafford (Peterborough), Dennis Easton (St. Ives), Fishers (Southwald), H E Bull & Son (Whittlesey) and M J Claypole (Yaxley) funeral directors. At the time of merger, the way the Society marketed its funeral business and the prominence of the Anglia Co-operative brand on private name funeral homes was being reviewed.[29]

Subsidiary undertaking Principal activity
Anglia Co-operative (Food) Ltd.[30] Food retailing
Anglia Co-operative Properties Ltd.[31] Property management
Co-op Funeral Services (Anglia) Ltd.[32] Funeral services
Elite Electrical Ltd.[33] Non-trading
Food and Funeral Properties Ltd.[34] Property management
Plutarch Limited[35] Property management
Westgate Optical Ltd.[36] Ophthalmic opticians
Yaxley Farm Ltd.[37] Farming
Anglia Motor Group Ltd.[38] Non-trading
Anglia Wholesale Furniture Distribution Ltd.[39] Non-trading
ARCS Department Stores Ltd.[40] Non-trading
ARCS Electrical Superstores Ltd.[41] Non-trading
Rainbow Stores Ltd.[42] Non-trading

Anglia Motor Group previously sold Audi, Vauxhall, Honda and Fiat in King's Lynn, Vauxhall in Wisbech and Hunstanton and Proton in Beccles. It also operated a King's Lynn bodyshop trading as Bodyline.[43]

Associated undertaking Class of shares
J E Beale Plc[44] Preference
Anglia Home Furnishings Ltd.[45] Preference

Since 1999, co-operative chemists in the Society's trading area have been operated by National Co-operative Chemists, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Co-operative Group trading as The Co-operative Pharmacy.[46] The business and assets of the former Anglia Dairies were transferred to Dairy Crest Group in 1997 for an aggregate consideration of £4.5m.[47]


The consumer co-operative movement has its roots in the early part of the nineteenth century and the principles of self-help and social equity that developed during the Victorian era. One of the first successful retail co-operatives was established in 1844 by the Rochdale Pioneers.

The society was founded as Peterborough Equitable Industrial Co-operative Society in 1876 and incorporated in 1887. It later absorbed the following societies, becoming Peterborough and District Co-operative Society and finally Greater Peterborough Regional Co-operative Society in 1982:[48]

Memorial at Westgate House to the 31 workers that did not return from World War I, dedicated by the Bishop of Peterborough in 1921.[49]
Society Established Transferred
Oundle Industrial 1866 1915
St. Neots Industrial 1882 1983[50]
Huntingdon Industrial 1866 1924[51]
Wisbech Phoenix 1886
King's Lynn 1888 1970[52]
St. Ives (Hunts) Industrial 1889
Chatteris 1900 1967[53]

Stanley Tiffany, a director of the Society, was elected Labour Co-operative Member of Parliament for the Peterborough division of Northamptonshire at the 1945 general election.[54]

Waveney Co-operative Society was formed in 1982 by the merger of Lowestoft Co-operative Society, founded in 1890 and Beccles Working Men's Co-operative Association, founded in 1879.[55] In 1983, the Waveney Society absorbed Diss Co-operative Society, which had been established in 1898;[56] it became Anglia Co-operative Society in 1986,[57] shortly before transferring engagements to the Peterborough Society the following year.[48]

See also


  1. ^ Annual Report and Accounts Anglia Regional Co-operative Society, 6 September 2008
  2. ^ Registered in England and Wales under the Companies Act 1985, No. 8644R
  3. ^ Section VII Administration (70) Rules of the Anglia Regional Co-operative Society, 10 February 2005
  4. ^ Together as One For members and employees of Anglia Co-operative Society Anglia Regional Co-operative Society and Midlands Co-operative Society, 19 September 2013
  5. ^ Society trades as Central England Co-operative Anglia Regional Co-operative Society (retrieved 16 January 2014)
  6. ^ Section I Interpretation (4) Rules of the Anglia Regional Co-operative Society, 10 February 2005
  7. ^ Part of an amendment of the rules acknowledged by the Financial Services Authority on 30 January 2002
  8. ^ Interim Statement of Trading Activities Anglia Regional Co-operative Society, 21 February 2009
  9. ^ A Romance of Co-operation (1941) East Anglian Film Archive, Cat. No. 1317 (retrieved 11 December 2011)
  10. ^ Interim Statement of Trading Activities Other trading activities United Co-operatives, 23 July 2005
  11. ^ By transfer of engagements of Kent Co-operative Society; see Annual Report and Accounts Property, production and other trading The Co-operative Group, 11 April 2007
  12. ^ Usdaw welcomes sale of Co-op department stores to Anglia Co-operative Society Archived 3 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine. Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers, 13 January 2006
  13. ^ Anglia ready to take over buying role Archived 6 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Co-operative News, 25 June 2006
  14. ^ Anglia Co-op launches online furniture shop Retail Week, 29 October 2008
  15. ^ Anglia Co-operative Society to sell Westgate Department Stores to Beale Plc Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers, 6 April 2011
  16. ^ King, Elaine EXCLUSIVE: Shocked staff at Westgate in March informed of its closure this morning Cambridgeshire Times, 29 March 2011
  17. ^ Jobs to go in store closure Peterlee Mail, 7 September 2011
  18. ^ Bowman, Dave Anglia set to sell off Westgate stores Co-operative News, 6 April 2011
  19. ^ Major outlet closure plan brings ghost town fears News Post Leader, 11 April 2013
  20. ^ Cole, Nick New owners and name for Scunthorpe department store Westgate Scunthorpe Telegraph, 9 September 2016
  21. ^ Registered in England and Wales No. 7760501
  22. ^ Registered in England and Wales No. 1513710, formerly as Anglia (Home Furnishings) Ltd.
  23. ^ Section IV Capital (17) Rules of the Anglia Regional Co-operative Society, 10 February 2005
  24. ^ Section VI Directors (36a) Rules of the Anglia Regional Co-operative Society, 10 February 2005
  25. ^ Section VIII Application of Profits (82) Rules of the Anglia Regional Co-operative Society, 10 February 2005
  26. ^ The Co-operative Membership Archived 19 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine. Anglia Regional Co-operative Society (retrieved 16 October 2008)
  27. ^ Rule Book Anglia Regional Co-operative Society, 6 October 2009
  28. ^ In your area: England The Co-operative Party (retrieved 9 December 2011)
  29. ^ Interim Statement of Trading Activities Anglia Regional Co-operative Society, 16 February 2013
  30. ^ Registered with the Financial Services Authority under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965, No. IP030866
  31. ^ Registered with the Financial Services Authority No. IP02772. Formerly registered in England and Wales No. 2451257, as Westgate Properties (Anglia) Ltd.
  32. ^ Registered in England and Wales No. 13027R, formerly as Anglia Regional Co-operative Chemists Ltd. A member of the National Association of Funeral Directors
  33. ^ Registered in England and Wales No. 407850
  34. ^ Registered with the Financial Services Authority No. IP025392, formerly as Westgate Optical Ltd.
  35. ^ Registered in England and Wales No. 880045
  36. ^ Registered in England and Wales No. 7526437
  37. ^ Registered in England and Wales No. 2553217
  38. ^ Registered in England and Wales No. 2633486, formerly as Anglia Dairies Ltd.
  39. ^ Registered in England and Wales No. 3010171
  40. ^ Registered in England and Wales No. 2633491, formerly as Westgate Department Stores Ltd.
  41. ^ Registered in England and Wales No. 2801934, formerly as Contact Electrical Superstores Ltd.
  42. ^ Registered in England and Wales No. 2633489
  43. ^ AMG up for sale after 'escalating losses' Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine. Motor Trader, 27 November 2000
  44. ^ Registered in England and Wales No. 120002. 36 Old Christchurch Road, Bournemouth BH1 1LJ
  45. ^ Registered in England and Wales No. 7599341
  46. ^ Registered in England and Wales No. 12714R. Brook House, Oldham Road, Middleton, Greater Manchester M24 1HF
  47. ^ Annual Report and Accounts Archived 7 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine. Notes to the financial statements (26) Dairy Crest Group, 1 June 1998
  48. ^ a b Anglia Society: A Potted History Anglia Regional Co-operative Society (retrieved 15 July 2007)
  49. ^ Buildings of Local Importance in Peterborough Archived 31 October 2014 at the Wayback Machine. (p. 42) Peterborough City Council, March 2013
  50. ^ London Gazette (No. 49357 p. 6929), 23 May 1983
  51. ^ London Gazette (No. 32956 p. 5432), 15 July 1924
  52. ^ London Gazette (No. 45199 p. 10565), 25 September 1970
  53. ^ London Gazette (No. 44482 p. 14194), 28 December 1967
  54. ^ London Gazette (No. 37238 p. 4293), 24 August 1945
  55. ^ London Gazette (No. 48894 p. 2224), 17 February 1982
  56. ^ London Gazette (No. 49372 p. 7639), 8 June 1983
  57. ^ London Gazette (No. 50843 p. 2535), 25 February 1987

Further reading

  • Webb, Sidney and Beatrice The Consumers' Co-operative Movement London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1930
  • Holyoake, George Jacob The History of Co-operation Volume 1 Pioneer Period, Chapter VI His Appeal to the People London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1908

External links

  • Anglia Regional Co-operative Society
  • Anglia Regional Co-operative Society Food
  • Co-operative Retail Trading Group
  • The Co-operative Group
  • The Co-operative Union
  • The Co-operative Party
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