AGM and May Council Meeting

The Co-ops AGm was held on the 19th May 19, as usual in Manchester.   The Co-op has an excellent AGM website at this link.  Ian Ellis our Chief Finance Officer reported on a solid set of results.  If you look at the results the underlying profit for the society was £43m. Now, this looks very low for a business of our size.  However, this was after we deducted £60m paid to members in the form of the 5 and 1 members reward. If this had been paid out of the bottom line, then our underlying profits would have been £103m, which starts to look OK.

At the AGM, the results of the National Council elections were announced.  Congratulations to Heather Barker who was elected for the first time in the South West.  Again, all the results can be found on the AGM link.  Our Board of Directors is voted on by the members. Some are elected on a straight yes/no ballot and some, the Member Nominated Directors face contested an election.   For the MND election, we welcome a new Director Sarah McCarthy-Fryto the Board and thank Gareth Thomas for his efforts over the last two years.

Member participation in the election was poor.  I think it was at 2%.  The challenge is not how to increase the numbers voting, we could always incentivise members to vote, but I would like to see a sustained increase because members want to vote in our elections.  Council will need to address this issue going forward.

National Council May 2019

The Council met on the Sunday following the AGM.  Our first speaker was Tim Davies and Louise Anderson from Co-op Ventures who were updating the Council on the launch of Co-op Health This is a new business focusing on repeat prescriptions delivered either to your door or in the future your local Co-op store.  This is a digital service that allows patients to order their prescriptions via an app that links to the GP.   In response to my question, Tim indicated that the key performance indicator for the next three years to measure our success was the number of active users the business attracts, rather than financials.  Louise was asked what the member benefit could be, given that we are not allowed to give rewards for prescriptions.  She described how they were hoping to roll out health stations in Co-op stores where members could get there BMI, blood pressure and body fat percentage measured automatically and then referred to the GP if so needed.  I tried this machine at the AGM and was impressed by how easy and quick it was to use.  

Peter Hunt from Mutuo talked to the Council on the difficulties that Co-ops face when raising capital for projects.  Normally PLC sell shares which gives the shareholder a stake in the business. In Co-ops we can not do this as members own the business, so we have to fund projects from loans or retained profits.  This means we do not have access to a pool of cheap capital when we need it.  Peter described various new models that can be used in the mutual sector that do not alter the ownership model.

Finally, Jim Cooke gave an update on the Co-op Foundation. The foundation has an excellent website. Click here for the latest news on the Foundation and how it is working with young people.

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