January National Council meeting
Welcome to my report of the January 2020 Co-op National Members Council (NMC). I will be standing for election to the NMC again in May 2020, and I hope that you will give me your vote. I created this blog to give me an opportunity to update and be accountable to members in the South West. So please give me your first preference in the voting!
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This session concentrated upon our next five-year vision and the challenges that we faced. With all strategies, we need to recognise that we cannot do everything and that some choices have to be made. I was pleased to hear that the Board had placed a great emphasis on being engaged with our members in their communities. Engaged members spent more money in our stores, so it was important for us to ensure we are fully linked up with our communities and members. Shrine spoke of the constant need to monitor costs to ensure that all our hard-earned income was spent in the most productive way possible.
They talked about the plan to grow our businesses. We will grow our business, by investing in new stores or refitting our existing stores. We would expand our wholesale business with new franchises and new wholesale opportunities. The Council stressed the need to invest in colleague pay and hours to enable our colleagues to build relationships with our members.
The Co-op will continue to invest in our legal probate service and work to improve our Insurance business. Shrine emphasised the need to grow our profits year on year whilst keeping our debt levels sustainable so we can invest both in the Society and our communities. However, there will be some need to look at underperforming stores, like we always have, and if necessary close these stores so that we can invest in more profitable areas. The Council stressed that it was important to ensure the needs of the local community were considered before any closures were agreed.
The second item on the agenda was an update from Russell Gill and Rebecca Birkdale from our community team. They spoke about the local community fund being aligned to our three priorities; Endangered spaces, Mental wellbeing and education and skills. We have now allocated over £19m to community groups since the new membership offer started.
Russell talked about our Member Pioneer programme and how the target of 600 MPs for 2019 was met and he hopes that the numbers would continue to rise in 2020 to 1000 MPs. 20% of MP are colleagues, and 80% were community activists who wanted to work with us. By the end of the year, the Co-op would have invested nearly £5m in Member Pioneers working in our communities.
Matt Atkinson from Membership spoke how our unique model of ownership, is proving to be a commercial success. His ambition for the next five years is for the Co-op to become a values-led society, rather than the traditional PLC value-led business
Council agreed to hold a series of half-yearly meetings around the UK in the Autumn of 2020. These will be a mix of 13 formal large meetings and a larger number of local events hosted by our Member Pioneers. Watch out for invitations to these “join in” events in the summer. Council members also agreed to submit a motion to members at the AGM in May on the topic of Climate Change and sustainability.
This will be my last blog before voting papers are issued in April 2020, so if you would like me to continue in this role, please vote for me ! Thank you.