Febs meeting of the Council

A slightly different blog this month.  Why?  Partly because the January National Council meeting was fairly short, and partly because I want to share some information from the Co-op that you might have missed.

Firstly, it was announced on the 7th February that Richard Pennycook was stepping down as the CEO of the Co-op Group and was being replaced by the head of Co-op Food, Mr Steve Murrells. Richard came to the Co-op at our time of need. Not long after he started in May 13, I asked him what motivated him to work for ua?  He said, that the Co-op was a Great British institution and if he wanted to do his part in saving it.  And save it he did. Thank you Richard.

Before Steve Murrells joined Co-op Food it was a tired business. Now after four years he has turned it on its head.  It is transformed beyond belief. His commitment to high quality, well stocked stores, providing our members with what they want, has seen Co-op food grow consistently.  I have no doubt that Steve will be an inspired CEO of the Group.  

The January Members meeting started with Pippa Wicks and Rachel Woodman, outline what has been achieved to date on the rebuilding of the Co-op.  A meaningful membership proposition, an agile centre focused on membership, highly motivated teams, businesses that are returning to profit and a more confident Co-op. But there is still a lot to do. We aim to bring in half a million new customers as we reach out to the wider community with our 5 and 1 membership proposition. We will continue to invest in Generate Insurance and our Legal Service as well as start to plan for the renew phase in 2018.  

I was also delighted to hear that we are now investing in our own colleagues by moving away from Consultants to advise the Co-op. Good businesses need good people to work in them, and where we can recruit and retain internally the better.  

Next up was Jo Whitfield, was is the Finance Director of Food, and after Richards announcement the acting CEO of Food.  Jo outlined that the growth in Co-op food was from both large and convenience stores, with convenience stores performing very well. The challenges for food were price increases due to the weakening of sterling and the impact of the National Living wage.    These combined are putting pressure not only on the Co-op but all retailers.

Co-op food is still refitting and refurbishing our estate as well as buying and building over 100 new stores each year. The introduction of the 5% on co-op products has seen our own brand penetration increase significantly.

Our next session concerned Co-op policy.  The council and the Board jointly agree policy on a range of issues.  Over the last three months Council members, Colleagues and the Board have been reviewing three important policy areas, Colleague wellbeing, Healthy Living and Diversity and inclusion.  These polices demonstrate to me, how effective the Council is, in ensuring the members voices is heard loud and clear in the Co-op.

 The next meeting of the Council is in April, so until then, goodbye.


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