Steve: Hello everybody, today is my first day as your Group CEO. It’s an immensely proud moment for me and I want to start by thanking many of you for your kind thoughts and best wishes.
As you know our Co-op is unique. It has a unique purpose, is a purpose-driven strategy and I’m convinced that our best years are still ahead of us.
My philosophy on leadership is quite simple, it’s to listen and then to lead. And that’s listening not just through the normal business unit sense of the word, but right the way across this wonderful society. Listening to the council, listening to the senate, talking to the federal independent societies and also reaching out to Co-op’s UK and hearing some of the things that are important and that are on their agenda.
One thing I’ve heard you say is that you’re really disappointed about the cancelling of double discount. In fact it was something that was echoed strongly during a recent council conversation. So I’m going to change that. As of this year we will reintroduce double discount three times, over Easter, the August bank holiday and the Christmas period.
As your new CEO I want to spend more time getting to know all of you even better. On Friday I was with our Funeral team in Glasgow. Yesterday I spent time with 3,000 of our retail colleagues and the week before I listened to what the Digital team’s hopes and aspirations were. In coming weeks I’ll spend time with our General Insurance team our Legal team and also starting to get into our communities.
The other thing that’s very important to me is how we support and help younger people in their careers, and their aspirations, and be successful in The Co-op. And you’ll see us starting to do that through our apprenticeship schemes and also through our venture thinking, and how we help young businesses start up across the UK.
This is the year where we start to think about shaping the thinking towards Renew. To decide what markets that we want to go and disrupt in the same way the Pioneers did, bringing value back to our members and to the country. To identify the gaps and the opportunities that we think we can make a real difference in. And to start to really leverage our growing digital capability in our existing businesses and also to help shape new ones.
These are exciting times but the world is changing at a fast rate. I ask two things of you; stick to the purpose, really do champion a better way of doing business for you in your communities and make sure that you look after members, customers and your communities better than anyone else does today.
This is our time and people are looking for a business that they can trust. If we do this well and continue in the same way that we started, together as one, then I’m really excited about the opportunities for the future and we could have one of the most iconic periods in the Co-op’s history.
Thanks very much for listening.
Co-op Group CEO