Mystery surrounds the proposed opening of the first kosher Co-op store in the UK.
It was reported this week that Co-op Israel, one of the country’s largest cross-sector tertiary businesses, would be opening supermarkets in Britain under a 50-50 partnership agreement with Co-op Britain.
The plans were allegedly announced following a meeting in Manchester last Tuesday between Co-op Israel chief Rami Mandel, heading a 12-strong delegation, and Dame Pauline Green, the chief executive of Co-operatives UK.
According to reports in the media, the first kosher Co-op store in England is planned to open in Golders Green, North London, during the first half of 2009, comprising more than 7,534 sq ft and with an investment of around £1 million.
Mr Mandel reportedly said that Co-op Israel and Co-op Britain would jointly open five kosher supermarkets in London and Manchester within three years.
However, Martin Henderson, head of public relations for the Co-op Group, denied any such venture was taking place. He said: “It’s just not true. There is no truth in it whatsoever.”
According to reports, Mr Mandel had said: “The chain [in Britain] will be founded with a 50-50 partnership agreement, but will be run 100 per cent by Co-op Israel using the same concept of Co-op stores in Israel.”
Another spokesperson for the Co-op Group confirmed that a meeting had taken place in Manchester between Dame Pauline and Co-op Israel but said there had been no discussion about a joint venture.
He said it had been one of a number of meetings with international co-operative groups, and was “not a business meeting”.
Contacted a number of times by the JC, Co-op Israel said that neither Rami Mandel, nor anyone else, was available to comment.
The Co-op Israel chain is owned by a co-operative society. Until two years ago it was called Co-op Jerusalem. It now includes 50 national stores.