Last week Steve announced we’re ending pay day Double Discount for colleagues, because we’re now getting an everyday benefit of 10% off on all Food purchases plus the 5% back on Co-op branded products through the new Co-op Membership rewards.
We knew this news would be disappointing for colleagues and you’ve been sending your questions and comments through to our Co-op Colleague Facebook page and to the Intranet.
Below I’ve responded to the most commonly raised points from you over the last few days.
1. Why are you taking this benefit away from us now?
It’s important to remember that we only introduced pay day Double Discount in 2013 because our financial crisis meant we couldn’t share any benefits through our Co-op Membership rewards. All our profits needed to go back into rebuilding our business.
When we decided to give our colleagues the new Co-op Membership rewards last June, three months ahead of everyone else, we considered ending the pay day Double Discount at that point. However, we thought it better to make sure the new Co-op rewards were working and understood before we took that decision. So for the last nine months we’ve had both the old and the new rewards for colleagues.
Now that we’re confident about how the 5% for you and 1% for your communities is working it’s time to end Double Discount.
So this is not about our colleagues paying for the new Co-op Membership rewards. It’s about recognising that our situation as a business has changed radically since 2013 and we now have a new way to reward you as a colleague member.
2. Double Discount was the only way I could afford to shop at the Co-op and buy the brands I like
We’ve invested heavily in improving the quality of Co-op own brand and it’s consistently winning awards ahead of the likes of Tesco, M&S and Waitrose. And by buying Co-op own brand you’re also supporting British farmers, our Fairtrade partners around the world and your local community.
With the everyday discount of 10% on any brand you buy at the Co-op plus the 5% you get back on own brand products, our prices are always affordable to colleagues. And the more Co-op brand you buy the more you’ll save.
3. What about Double Discount around seasonal promotion times like Easter and Christmas – that predates the 2013 financial crisis. Why can’t we have that back?
Seasonal Double Discount events for colleagues are also ending but we’ll keep this under review as the year progresses.
We have to recognise that the Food retail market in Britain is going to become even more competitive in 2017 than last year or 2015. A weaker pound means food commodity prices (traded in dollars) are going to be affected. Add that to the rising cost of fuel and you can see how food costs are under pressure this year.
Keeping our customers has to be our priority in a highly competitive market and being cautious about Double Discount promotions for colleagues is one way we can achieve that.
So if the situation allows we’ll look at special Double Discount events later in the year but we can’t make that guarantee right now.
4. Students who are members of NUS extra can now get the same discount as colleagues. That can’t be fair?
The 10% discount for NUS extra cardholders is aimed at introducing the Co-op to a whole new generation of customers who we hope will become loyal Co-op members for life. It’s vital we invest in our long term future through targeted pricing strategies like this.
That doesn’t make NUS extra cardholders equal in their benefits to colleagues though. All our colleague members also benefit from discounts from our other businesses: Co-op Electrical, Insurance, Funeralcare and Legal services. You can find out more about all that’s on offer from our Benefits website.
5. The benefits site is not easy to use
We know that most colleagues are not taking advantage of all they are entitled to from the Co-op which is why we draw attention to our benefits website in the message last week. As well as the Co-op colleague discounts listed, there are offers and discounts on many, many other brands. If you visit the site regularly or sign up for the weekly email alerts (the offers change regularly) you could easily be saving hundreds of pounds a year.
However, some of you have said the site is not easy to use.
There’s a project underway to remove the logon requirements for our benefits website and that will make 90%+ of the content accessible without having to register. We know that registering and logging on is a pain for people and we’re keen to remove it.
People will then only have to register on the site if they actually want to sign up for specific retail discounts or the Cycle to Work scheme, or if they want to receive email alerts. This work is due to complete by the end of March.
Retail and Logistics Director