The UK's Grocery Big Four is Now the Big Five - Find Out How the Sector Will Change With an Exclusive Interview With The Co-op's Chief Executive

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After months of talks, The Co-operative Group has finally sealed the takeover of fellow UK retailer Somerfield, which has resulted in creating the UK's fifth-largest food retailer. Earlier this week, Dean Best, managing editor of just-food.com, exclusively interviewed Peter Marks, chief executive of The Co-op and asked what his ambitions are for the new retailer.

This is a transformational deal, cementing our position as the UK's premier community retailer and helping us significantly as we lead a renaissance of the Co-operative brand.

After months of talks, The Co-operative Group has finally sealed the takeover of fellow UK retailer Somerfield, which has resulted in creating the UK's fifth-largest food retailer. Earlier this week, Dean Best, managing editor of just-food.com, exclusively interviewed Peter Marks, chief executive of The Co-op and asked what his ambitions are for the new retailer.

In a deal worth GBP1.6bn (US$3.2bn), announced on 16th July, the combined business will operate around 3,000 stores and command 8% of UK grocery sales. This takeover marks the creation of the fifth-largest food retailer behind the likes of Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and Morrisons.

When asked about the deal, Peter Marks, Co-op chief executive, said: "This is a transformational deal, cementing our position as the UK's premier community retailer and helping us significantly as we lead a renaissance of the Co-operative brand." Marks continued to say: "The Co-op is an iconic brand and we're taking it back where it belongs."

As this takeover will increase the amount of stores operated by The Co-op, the UK's competition watchdog, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is studying the effects of the deal. It is thought that a number of the Somerfield stores will need to be sold to satisfy the OFT. Marks said: "We do recognise that the OFT will identify some competition issues in some local areas, it will take a few months. Obviously, we want it completed as soon as possible but we do recognise that the OFT has a job to do."

The full interview is available for full members of just-food at http://www.just-food.com/coopinterview. For non-members access to the interview and other articles can be obtained by signing up for a free trial of just-food at http://www.just-food.com/membership.

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