Members Council July update



The National Members Council met up in July. Apologies for the late posting of this episode of the blog, The summer  distracted me. 

The first piece of business was to elect a new Vice President of the Council. Mark Bicknell was elected for a one-year term last May and consequently his term of office had expired.

There was an outstanding field of candidates for this position and I am pleased to report that in a very close vote Bev Perkins was elected to the position.  Congratulations Bev

We also voted for five members of the Council to join the Senate. The Senate acts as the main committee for the Council, and meets monthly to ensure that the members interests are represented between the quarterly National Council meetings.

Pippa Wicks
The first main speakers to present to the Council were Pippa Wicks and Rachel Woodman.  Pippa is the Chief Operating Officer and Rachel our Director of Transformation.  They came to update us on the progress of the Vital 5 and Winning 10 programmes. V5/W10 are the 15 programmes that collectively come together to rebuild the co-op.  The programmes range from meaningful membership, True North, the food strategy, revitalising the brand, growing and transforming Funeralcare, Co-op Insurance and Co-op Legal Services. Whilst at the same time fixing the IT systems and reducing costs. It is a huge undertaking and I was impressed both on how well the two presenters knew their brief and also on how well these projects are progressing.

Rachel Woodman
You will remember that the we re-branded ourselves the Co-op at the AGM in May. Pippa updated us on progress to date on re-branding the estate. Up to July 34 stores, 27 Funeral Homes, 600 products and a 1 new look carrier bags have had the makeover.  Pippa and Rachel reminded us of the enormous amount of work that had to be completed on each of our businesses and central functions as part of the rebuilding exercise.



As an elected member I was interested to hear how the new membership proposition will be rolled out.  If you recall, going forward from September, members will earn 5% when buying co-op products and also 1% for local community groups. Over the Summer. Colleagues will be issued with new look cards and trailing the new systems ahead of a launch in the Autumn.  


I have had my new card since July and I have “earned” over £7 from buying co-op goods and £1 for my local community.  If you spend £20 a week at your co-op you will earn £50 a year for yourself and £10 for a local community project (which you can help nominate). On top of this, from 2017 onward, you will still be entitled to a dividend payment from our profits.

The Council has over the last twelve months debating how we should be holding to the Board to account for its actions.  We have been developing a series of key performance indicators (KPIs) that will influence our view on how well the Board is achieving its goal.   We have come up with the concept of the Co-op compass. This has four quadrants, Member value, Member voice, Co-operative Leadership and Ethical and Sustainable leadership. Each of these headings have a number of sub inicators that will be monitored to ensure that the Co-op is heading in the right direction.


I like the fact that we are using a mixture of financial and non-financial measures to hold the board to account.  After all, co-ops are people businesses run by colleagues and owned by members.  Financial success is important but we must always strive to remember that it is our  Values and Principles makes us a successful co-operative business.

We are currently working to establish baseline figures for each of the KPIs so that we can monitor each one going forward.  If all goes well I will be able to report how we will be using the compass by the end of the year.

Following on from the Council I spent an enjoyable Sunday completing one of our essential training courses. I took the Understanding Financial Information course.  This is aimed at ensuring Council members understand the information presented to them, and that they are able to challenge the figures in a constructive manner. I always enjoy these courses as it is an opportunity to both to learn and to mix with other Co-operators. I don't enjoy the fact that I  have to complete the assignment that was set for us at the end of the course.  I’ll let you know if I have passed the course when I next blog.


Finally, I went to the first BBC  Countryfile live event held at Blenheim Palace In August.  I was delighted to see that our Co-op sponsored the Village green and even more impressed when I saw that we had a VIP member’s exhibition.  Here members could get a free drink, and chat with membership staff on our new membership proposition.  I thought it was an excellent addition to the other Co-op events.  It was good that members had a member only event to enjoy. If we do Country file next year, I just hope that the members lounge is bigger and better.

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