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January 16, 2013

Merger good for rural businesses

In small rural communities the village shop, petrol station, post office or local pub are vitally important and fragile in equal measure.  Important because the service they provide can literally be a lifeline for these communities and fragile because their financial viability is often extremely marginal. And that’s why, all too often, the community finds itself in the position of having to take these businesses over.  Last week brought some welcome news for all these remote rural enterprises.


Plunkett Foundation has announced today it will be extending its services by merging with the Scotland based Community Retailing Network (CRN) to give Scotland’s rural communities greater access to Plunkett’s support.

The CRN worked across Scotland supporting community-owned shops in some of the remotest rural locations to thrive. Plunkett Foundation has worked with the CRN to support the development of community-owned shops in Scotland and the merging of the activities of the two organisations will see significant expertise in developing community shops, co-operative pubs and other rural community services across the UK being shared with Scotland’s communities.

Norman MacDonald, Chair of CRN and Convener of the Western Isles Council, said: “This is great news for Scottish communities who are at risk of physical or social isolation following the loss of or threat to their village shop, as well as communities wishing to explore other forms of community enterprise. By merging with Plunkett our combined support will reach more communities in need of support to explore solutions that are controlled by them.”

Peter Couchman, Chief Executive of Plunkett Foundation, said: “We are delighted to be merging with the Community Retailing Network to extend our services into Scotland. Founded in 1919 by the Irish co-operative pioneer, Sir Horace Plunkett, we have a long tradition of supporting and sharing knowledge between communities across the UK. The creation of Plunkett Scotland and the additional resources this will bring will create even more opportunities for rural communities across Scotland to take control of the issues important to them.”

The CRN will merge with Plunkett Foundation on 1st January 2013. The current CRN co-ordinator will remain and the merger will also see the creation of a new post to promote and support community-owned enterprises.