Approx 950 words. 4 mins to read.
Today we’ve announced our half year results for 2020. As you’d expect, our news is dominated by how we’ve responded to the Covid-19 pandemic and the exceptional work of our colleagues.
The infographic below highlights our commercial performance and the support we’ve given to our colleagues and our communities.
We’re living in unprecedented times, and as you’d expect from your Co-op, we’ve stepped up to meet the challenge. I’m immensely proud of my 60,000 colleagues who’ve helped to feed and care for the nation during this difficult time. They’ve shown how our co-operative approach to doing business is giving you, our members, and the communities where you live, practical help when it really matters. Others have called our colleagues ‘national heroes’ for all they’ve been doing, and I couldn’t agree more.
In total, £15m of funds were given to charities and community causes as part of Covid-19 response.
Let me break some of this down for you:
- £1.5 million worth of goods donated to food banks supported by food charity FareShare;
- £3.4m worth of advertising spend donated to FareShare, including the TV space we’d booked for our Easter campaign.
- £4.5m from our Local Community Fund donated earlier than normal to 4,000 local causes.
- £2.6m free school meal vouchers provided for 6,000 Co-op Academy pupils.
- We also created a £950,000 fund for global communities, channelled to Fairtrade suppliers and One Water sustainable water projects.
And it wasn’t just about financial help.
We moved quickly from pilots to a national launch of our new online Co-operate platform, which has been linking volunteers to those in need. Since April we’ve had 85,000 visits to the site.
The new platform has complemented the work of our Member Pioneers, who now number 1,000, as well as our store and funeral colleagues in cities, towns and villages across the UK. Our Member Pioneers have been truly amazing, supporting an estimated 20,000 vulnerable people a month.
Staying strong in the times ahead
The coming months and years remain uncertain, and we know our own Co-op and our millions of members will not be immune to the pressures the recession will bring to family budgets and to local communities. We want to continue to invest in our business, to remain strong for you our members, and campaign on the issues that matter most to you. To do this, we need to be careful with our costs and efficient in everything we do. We know we have some tough decisions ahead to make sure we can stay relevant and competitive in ever tougher markets.
Our vision of Co-operating for a Fairer World has taken on even greater resonance this year, with the pandemic bringing to light inequalities and injustices which no longer feel remotely tolerable. That’s why we’re announcing four important new ways we’re helping our colleagues, members and local communities to stay strong in the hard times ahead.
In recognition of the vital role played by our colleagues this year, and the tough times ahead for the nation, we’re going to improve our front-line colleague pay even further by working to align our hourly pay rates to the Real Living Wage from next year. This will give a significant pay boost to 33,000 of our colleagues mostly working in our food stores.
We’re going to tackle the unfairness of racism through a set of new commitments which are some of the boldest, most holistic and innovative any big business has announced. These include doubling the number of leaders and manager working for us from Black, Asian and ethnic minority groups so that we truly reflect the diversity of our members and the communities we serve. We’ll also publish an annual ethnicity pay gap report and encourage the government to make this mandatory for big businesses. And we’ll work with our Co-op Academy Trust to develop an anti-racism curriculum for schools. We know we have much work to do and there are huge cultural and institutional challenges we must face. But we’re making a stand on this and are determined to make lasting changes to create a fairer world.
Improved Co-op Membership
At the end of September, we’re relaunching our Co-op membership rewards which will double the amount we give to local communities through our Local Community Fund. We’ll also be using improved data and technology to tailor weekly discounts to our members. This is in addition to a multi-million-pound investment in price reductions in our Food stores.
New routes to work
The younger generation is being hit hardest by the economic fallout from Covid-19, so we want to give a helping hand into work to even more young people.
We’ll offer 150 of government Kickstart work placements to candidates in communities where opportunities are most needed. And we’ll make at least 50% of those placements permanent when training is complete. We’ll also top up the national minimum wage allowance, to ensure candidate income is in line with colleagues pay. This is in addition to 1,200 apprentices currently active across our Co-op.
There’s a great deal of uncertainty still ahead of us. As we move into the autumn and winter, Covid-19 will continue to disrupt and change our lives. Our future trading relations with the EU also remain unclear. But I have every confidence in our ability to succeed for you our members and the communities in which you live as long as we stay focused and prioritise our work in the best way possible.
Thank you for your continued support for the Co-op and your belief in Co-operating for a Fairer World.
Read more from Steve:
- “Trade, Community and the Climate Emergency – why co-operation is the only response” – Steve Murrells
- We’re celebrating 175 years of the Co-op by looking to our future
- We’re the first UK retailer to pledge to meet the United Nations’ climate target by 2050 – but we’ll need political will and real co-operation to get there