January 5, 2017

Welcome to 2017

First of all a very Happy New Year and a special thank you to the many colleagues who worked through the holiday season. Steve Murrells will update us on trading next week but I can tell you now that all your hard work paid off – our Co-op had a great Christmas and New Year.

When I was doing my store visits on Christmas Eve the last store I went to was Appleby in Cumbria, which I also visited on Christmas Eve last year. Last year the store was recovering from flooding and we’d set up a pop-up shop in the car park. When I visited this time it was still cold and wet but our store was fully refurbished and doing a great trade. It was terrific to be able to talk to colleagues a year on and find such a successful turnaround.

I’d been in London too and heard how our colleagues were working in partnership with the London Fire Brigade to support some of the most vulnerable people over Christmas with food hampers and a full Christmas dinner. Special mention to Enoch Kanagaraj and the team from Watford who volunteered their time on Christmas Day to help make it all happen.  This was ‘being Co-op’ in action once again. Read more about it here.

We also made the headlines over the holidays with our plans to open 100 new Food stores in 2017 creating 1,500 new jobs. It was the end of a year of good news coverage that reflects the momentum we now have in rebuilding our Co-op.

Final year of Rebuild

This year is the third and final year of Rebuild. We achieved a huge amount last year and we’re most definitely back!

But now we need to make sure that we’re back for good and that means all the great changes and initiatives we put in place during 2016 need to take root. A big part of that will be growing our membership.

Our target in 2017 is to recruit a million new members with at least half of them brand new Co-op customers.

Join Us

We’re calling our membership recruitment campaign ‘Join Us’ and it will build through the year as we tell more and more stories about what makes our Co-op different and special.

We need to go beyond the immediate Membership rewards of 5% and 1% and start to explain why being a Co-op allows us to be a different way of doing business. We intend to reach every section of the population with Co-op messages that explain why and how we care about our members and how we respond to their priorities.

Cinema launch

We’re starting the Join Us campaign this month with new point of sale material going into our Food stores over the next few weeks. From January 20th we’ll begin a cinema and social media campaign that highlights the depth of the relationship we’re building with local communities. I’m delighted to tell you that the acclaimed British director Shane Meadows has been working with us over the last few months to create a series of powerful and inspiring short films to illustrate our work with local causes.

Shane is best known for the Bafta award winning feature film and TV series ‘This is England’. If you’ve never seen it, now’s the time to catch up on Shane’s iconic film-making.

Shane’s first film for us will air in cinemas from 20th January with exclusive screenings ahead of the new Trainspotting film which opens across the country at the end of the month.

In mid-February we’ll be on TV again with an updated Food ad that makes the connection between good Co-op food, Fairtrade, British farmers and doing good for you and your community.

Meanwhile, colleagues will be playing a key role too. Sixty ‘Member Champions’, some of whom were our BCOP ‘hosts’ last year, will be visiting stores around the country talking to our customers about membership and coaching our front line colleagues on how to start those vital membership conversations. Colleagues from the Support Centre will also be ‘Lending a Hand’ in stores but this time the emphasis will be on talking about our membership rewards.

Making a difference

In the spring we can look forward to the first round of 1% pay outs to the first 4,000 causes we’ve been supporting. We’ll be reporting on how they’re spending the money and the practical difference it’s making in their communities. That’ll be 1,000s of local stories telling the Co-op difference.

Meanwhile, as we move through the year, we’ll be talking about deepening our relationship with local communities in ways only a Co-op could achieve. We’ll also return our Co-op to leadership positions on a range of ethical trading issues.

In Food we’ll champion British farmers more than we’ve ever done before and make new commitments on Fairtrade. And all the time we’ll be growing our Food stores in every part of the country.

Our Insurance, Funeralcare and Legal businesses will all continue their transformation work setting them up for significant growth in the years to come. Digital, our newest business and support function, will pioneer new services for our members and customers and establish Manchester as a new Digital Hub for the UK.

No slowing down     

As you can see there’s no slowing down of the momentum we’ve established over the last two years, and people are starting to notice the difference. Our brand ‘buzz’ score, which measures what people have heard about us, is almost back at the levels last seen before our crisis in 2013.

I expect 2017 to bring some new challenges to us and to all major businesses. Inflation, partly driven by a weaker pound and increased prices for food commodities, is on the way. And growth across the UK economy is expected to slow. That means we have to be even more competitive as our members and customers start to feel the pinch in their purses and wallets.

Our progress at the Co-op has been rapid but there’s still much to be done to ensure we can be celebrating the end of Rebuild come next Christmas.

It’s going to be another exciting and eventful year for us all and I look forward to sharing more news with you in the coming weeks and months.

Richard
Co-op Group CEO

Join the conversation! 6 Comments

  1. Things appear to be looking up and we have done really well with our improved competitive pricing policy recently. An Excellent Christmas range also .
    Do have problems with certain products and lines being dropped from our bigger stores and I am receiving complaints from customers that they do not automatically receive a till receipt . See what you can do for members to correct these couple of problems.
    I have phoned the customer care line regarding unavailable products but I am still awaiting a reply.

    Many Thanks and A Happy & Co-operative New Year to one and all

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    • I am an OAP also founder of [ushed-coop.com] please visit this project will fit in with your infrastructure and as there are 9 million OAP and by 2020 statistics say it will rise to 20 million
      it would be great if many OAP become ushed member would also become a Coop member
      with a collectively spending monies of hundreds of millions per year .
      All OAP are in need of this service

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      Reply
      • USHED-COOP IS A SCAM. There is no corporate registration information on the website, which is illegal, in fact there isn’t even a postal address or anybody’s name on it. There are references to the “State of London” and “community tax”, neither of which exist. If you engage with them the first thing you are asked for is your NI no. Emails to their contact address bounce straight back.
        This is a scam targeted at elderly people and should be reported.

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  2. Great to hear the positive progress! And looking forward to the new promotional campaigns around food and membership. The Co-op’s local connections really make a difference. Our environmental-based neighbourhood improvement project in Newcastle upon Tyne’s most ethnically diverse area tried to get support from two other supermarket chains with local stores when we were starting up. Neither replied, but the Co-op Group and Funeralcare stepped in to help with initial publicity, volunteer tree planting and in other ways, giving us a real boost!

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  3. I’m glad things appear to be looking up for the business but what would be nice is for the colleagues to get their bonus back and a pay rise would be good as I believe the co-op are the lowest paid food retailer and it’s been

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  4. The staff were conned out of certain benefits for a 50p pay rise which they benefited for 4 months until the minimum wage went up now it’s £7.47 but come April minimum wage will be £7.50 which means a massive 3p wage rise, roll on April I hear the staff say.

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#beingcoop, Business, Colleagues, Community, Fairtrade, Membership