April 2017

The April 2017 edition of Co-op News: connecting, challenging and championing the global co-operative movement. This issue … Setting your sights on becoming a responsible business ... Planning a holiday? Go sustainable ... Next steps for CSR ... Why going hyperlocal puts people in control

The April 2017 edition of Co-op News: connecting, challenging and championing the global co-operative movement.

This issue … Setting your sights on becoming a responsible business ... Planning a holiday? Go sustainable ... Next steps for CSR ... Why going hyperlocal puts people in control


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APRIL <strong>2017</strong><br />

news<br />


Setting your sights<br />

on becoming a<br />

responsible<br />

business<br />

Plus... Planning a<br />

holiday? Go sustainable<br />

... Next steps for CSR ...<br />

Why going hyperlocal<br />

puts people in control<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

01<br />

9 770009 982010<br />

£4.20<br />


From<br />

£25 a month<br />

for handset<br />

and tariff<br />

Fairphone from The Phone Co-op<br />

A smarter phone for a better planet<br />

We are passionate about fairness in our products and services,<br />

which is why we are proud to be the exclusive UK telecoms partner<br />

of Fairphone.<br />

Fairphone 2, a revolutionary new handset, really is a smarter<br />

smartphone. It’s produced to the highest ethical standards and is<br />

easy for you to repair and upgrade.<br />

And with The Phone Co-op, it’s available on a fantastic monthly<br />

contract.<br />

If you believe values are as important as value, get the Fairphone 2<br />

from The Phone Co-op today.<br />

Join the movement.<br />

Visit www.thephone.coop/coopnews or call our<br />

team on 01608 434 084 quoting ‘Co-op News’.<br />

The Phone Co-op. Your voice counts.<br />

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news<br />




Holyoake House, Hanover Street,<br />

Manchester M60 0AS<br />

(00) 44 161 214 0870<br />

www.thenews.coop<br />

editorial@thenews.coop<br />


Anthony Murray<br />

anthony@thenews.coop<br />


Rebecca Harvey<br />

rebecca@thenews.coop<br />


Anca Voinea | anca@thenews.coop<br />

Miles Hadfield | miles@thenews.coop<br />


Elaine Dean (chair), David Paterson<br />

(vice-chair), Richard Bickle, Sofygil<br />

Crew, Gavin Ewing, Tim Hartley,<br />

Erskine Holmes, Beverley Perkins and<br />

Barbara Rainford.<br />

Secretary: Ray Henderson<br />

Established in 1871, Co-operative News<br />

is published by Co-operative Press Ltd,<br />

a registered society under the Cooperative<br />

and Community Benefit Society<br />

Act 2014. It is printed every month by<br />

Buxton Press, Palace Road, Buxton,<br />

Derbyshire SK17 6AE. Membership of<br />

Co-operative Press is open to individual<br />

readers as well as to other co-operatives,<br />

corporate bodies and unincorporated<br />

organisations.<br />

The Co-operative News mission statement<br />

is to connect, champion and challenge<br />

the global co-operative movement,<br />

through fair and objective journalism and<br />

open and honest comment and debate.<br />

Co-op News is, on occasion, supported by<br />

co-operatives, but final editorial control<br />

remains with Co-operative News unless<br />

specifically labelled ‘advertorial’. The<br />

information and views set out in opinion<br />

articles and letters do not necessarily<br />

reflect the opinion of Co-operative News.<br />

Co-operation is driven by a<br />

desire to change – so what<br />

difference are we making?<br />

In everything that we do, the co-operative impact upon the world is<br />

always considered.<br />

Co-op principles ensure a better way of business for the benefit of people<br />

and community.<br />

But, while co-operatives do make economical sense for members by<br />

pooling resources and saving costs, there’s more behind the desire to<br />

co-own a business.<br />

Dirk Vansintjan, president of energy co-op body REScoop, sums it up<br />

perfectly in an article for Co-op News. “People join up,” he says, “not<br />

just because of competitive energy prices and investment returns, but<br />

also their desire to fight climate change, develop co-operation with their<br />

neighbours, and support the added value of community projects towards<br />

the local economy.” Read more on page 30.<br />

It is this desire for change that unites people and creates co-operation.<br />

It is why people put selflessness behind them and work together for the<br />

greater good.<br />

Day in, day out, this greater good is practised by a billion members of<br />

co-ops around the world through a million co-operative businesses.<br />

Co-op impact spreads far and wide. This edition looks at the many<br />

examples of people pushing for change, which includes:<br />

uCo-operators discussing how co-ops can create a post-carbon world<br />

uAn initiative from credit unions, which is making loans more accessible<br />

online<br />

uInvesting over £10m in sustainable tourism when shoppers buy a Co-op<br />

holiday<br />

This is just a snapshot of the co-operative movement. And today, the<br />

world needs a strong focus on co-operative principles based on the<br />

values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and<br />

solidarity for all.<br />

@coopnews<br />

cooperativenews<br />


APRIL <strong>2017</strong> | 3

holiday? Go sustainable<br />

... Next steps for CSR ...<br />

Why going hyperlocal<br />

puts people in control<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

01<br />

9 770009 982010<br />



We look at the options for ethical tourism<br />

(p32-35); Howard Brodsky gives advice<br />

to retailers on how to innovate to get<br />

ahead (p44-47); Southern Co-operative’s<br />

Gemma Lacey shares her co-op experience<br />

(p22); and economist James Walton of IGD<br />

discusses the impact of Brexit (p26)<br />

news Issue #7282 APRIL <strong>2017</strong><br />

Connecting, championing, challenging<br />

news<br />

APRIL <strong>2017</strong><br />


Setting your sights<br />

on becoming a<br />

responsible<br />

business<br />

Plus... Planning a<br />

COVER As the UK prepares for<br />

Responsible Business Week from<br />

24-28 <strong>April</strong>, we look at how co-ops<br />

rate when it comes to looking after the<br />

planet, their workers, suppliers and<br />

communities Read more: pages 38-43<br />

£4.20<br />

www.thenews.coop<br />

20-21 SHARE OFFERS<br />

Details of two share offers from the<br />

Ecological Land Co-operative and New<br />

Internationalist magazine.<br />

22-23 MEET… GEMMA LACEY<br />

The director of sustainability and<br />

communications at Southern Co-op tells<br />

us her priorities and proudest moments<br />


The Co-operatives UK event looked at how<br />

buying groups can help retailers, and how<br />

Brexit will affect the industry.<br />


The Association of British Credit Unions<br />

looked at how to attract customers from<br />

the millennial generation.<br />


Dirk Vansintjan of REScoop asks how<br />

Europe’s new energy directive will affect<br />

renewables and the community energy<br />

sector on the continent.<br />

32-35 ETHICAL TRAVEL<br />

The tourist industry is booming – and<br />

an important part of the world economy.<br />

But how can travellers make sure their<br />

holiday isn’t harming the environment or<br />

exploiting workers where they visit?<br />


Campaign group Stop Funding Hate wants<br />

the Co-op to rethink its advertising policy.<br />


UK retail co-ops are taking innovative<br />

approaches to ethical working – including<br />

a high-tech suit that lets staff experience<br />

the physical effects of old age.<br />


Expecting the unexpected and the power<br />

of being hyper-local.<br />


6-13: UK updates<br />

14-17: Global updates<br />

18: Letters<br />

18: Membership updates<br />

48-49: Reviews<br />

50: Diary<br />

4 | APRIL <strong>2017</strong>

join our journey<br />

be a member<br />

news<br />

member owned, member-led<br />

On 1 March, we relaunched our membership, giving our member-owners more<br />

opportunity to help us with our independent coverage of the co-operative movement<br />


NEWS<br />


Co-op movement reacts to measures in Hammond’s spring budget<br />

Small co-operatives will benefit from<br />

legislation to reduce regulatory burdens,<br />

in a decision announced by chancellor<br />

Philip Hammond in the spring budget.<br />

The government will increase the<br />

turnover threshold for which co-ops are<br />

required to conduct a full audit from £5.6m<br />

to £10.2m, and the assets threshold from<br />

£2.8m to £5.1m. The measure is expected<br />

to save co-operatives affected between<br />

£5,000 and £10,000 a year.<br />

Co-operatives UK, which campaigned<br />

for the reform, welcomed the news.<br />

Secretary general Ed Mayo said: “It<br />

is very welcome to see the chancellor<br />

helping to level the playing field for<br />

smaller co-operative businesses. There<br />

are 7,000 co-ops up and down the country<br />

giving people ownership of the things that<br />

matter – their work, their homes, their<br />

local areas. We have been arguing for the<br />

reform announced today. Its introduction<br />

will make life easier and provide a<br />

significant saving for a range of co-ops.”<br />

In his budget speech, Mr Hammond<br />

said local pubs with a rateable value of<br />

less than £100,000 would receive a £1,000<br />

discount on business rates bills in <strong>2017</strong>.<br />

The government will also provide local<br />

authorities with a £300m fund to deliver<br />

discretionary relief to help those hardest<br />

hit by business rate rises.<br />

Labour/Co-op MP Adrian Bailey, who<br />

has been campaigning for the change,<br />

also said: “I was delighted to see this<br />

commitment in the Budget. It reflects the<br />

strength of the co-operative cause and<br />

the increasing awareness of the vital role<br />

that co-ops play in driving our economy.<br />

It is also a reflection of the strength of<br />

the close working relationship between<br />

the movement and its parliamentary<br />

representatives.”<br />

Peter Holbrook, chief executive of<br />

Social Enterprise UK, said the budget was<br />

“relatively safe... featuring some welcome<br />

steps, but one which won’t deliver the<br />

radical change the economy needs.”<br />

He welcomed the discretionary business<br />

rates relief fund, reduced regulatory<br />

burden and discounted rates for pubs.<br />

He added: “The action to fund<br />

broadband for local groups is vital to<br />

Plan to double co-op start-ups by 2030<br />

Over the next decade the number<br />

of co-op start-ups will double and<br />

membership will rise 15%, under<br />

targets in a draft National Co-operative<br />

Development Strategy. The final stage<br />

of the strategy was launched by Dame<br />

Pauline Green, former president of the<br />

International Co-operative Alliance, who<br />

chaired its drafting panel.<br />

The vision:<br />

One day most businesses will be run in<br />

a participative way. The best of these<br />

will form the foundations of a different<br />

kind of economy, over which people<br />

have control. These will be co-ops.<br />

2030 targets:<br />

u Double co-op start-ups<br />

u Increase the number of co-op<br />

members by three million to 20 million<br />

u 50% increase in public perception of<br />

co-ops as modern and innovative<br />

create the digital infrastructure required to<br />

ensure more balanced regional growth.”<br />

But he warned it was a “worrying<br />

sign” that there was no mention of social<br />

investment, inclusive business, shared<br />

society or mutuals, and barely a mention<br />

of charities.<br />

Dame Pauline told delegates at the<br />

Co-operative Retail Conference to<br />

respond to the final three-month<br />

consultation before the strategy’s<br />

launch on the International Day of<br />

Co-operatives (1 July).<br />

She said co-ops need to look at<br />

how they work to support the strategy.<br />

This includes choosing co-ops to do<br />

business with and being open about<br />

new forms of co-operation.<br />

“This means new conversations,<br />

looking for new ways to act as a co-op,<br />

encouraging people to talk about what<br />

your co-op is doing, be open to talk to<br />

new people,” she added.<br />

She advised co-ops to look at<br />

ways to involve members – such as<br />

supporting the Worker Co-op Solidarity<br />

Fund, or dealing with issues in their<br />

communities through co-op models,<br />

rather than by supporting charities.<br />

u Respond to the draft strategy online:<br />

www.uk.coop/doit<br />

“The government may have completely<br />

lost sight of the value of the social<br />

economy,” he said. “We hope it’s not<br />

too late before the government comes to<br />

realise the power and potential of social<br />

enterprise to create opportunities and<br />

reduce inequalities.”<br />

6 | APRIL <strong>2017</strong>


Co-op Bank reports<br />

£477m loss and warns<br />

of more branch closures<br />

ENERGY<br />

Co-op Energy sets new<br />

community targets<br />

The Co-op Bank has reported an annual<br />

loss of £477m. This is lower than the<br />

£610.6m loss of 2015, but marks the fifth<br />

year in a row it has lost money and brings<br />

the total accumulated loss to £2.6bn.<br />

In its 2016 annual report the bank, in<br />

which the Co-op Group still has a 20%<br />

stake, claimed the loss is due to legacy<br />

issues, citing a lower net interest income,<br />

an “increase in the fair value amortisation<br />

associated with the merger with the<br />

Britannia Building Society” and “higher<br />

remediation and strategic project costs”.<br />

“2016 was a year of progress and<br />

challenge, culminating in the board’s<br />

decision to commence a sale process and<br />

consider other options to build capital,”<br />

said chair Dennis Holt.<br />

He said the bank had only been able<br />

to consider these options because of<br />

the progress on its turnaround. “These<br />

options would simply not have been<br />

feasible before,” he said.<br />

Although the bank is only a few weeks<br />

into the sale process, new CEO Liam<br />

Coleman said the organisation was<br />

“pleased with the interest to date” and<br />

was engaging with potential bidder.<br />

As a back-up alternative, the bank is<br />

exploring plans to raise an additional<br />

£750m, and is to close an additional 10<br />

branches by the end of <strong>2017</strong>, bringing the<br />

number down to 95.<br />

The bank is still separating from the Coop<br />

Group and continues to rely on it for<br />

critical IT, personnel and assets services.<br />

It completed the transfer of its core<br />

mainframe system to a new IBM managed<br />

environment in February, but warns<br />

that “this ongoing separation project is<br />

complex and may be more costly and take<br />

more time than currently contemplated.”<br />

The bank stated that part of its focus for<br />

<strong>2017</strong> would be on “continued investment<br />

in the brand and development of products<br />

and services which reflect the bank’s<br />

customer-led Ethical Policy”.<br />

Mr Coleman added: “We believe there<br />

is value in our distinct position in the<br />

market and that the relationship we have<br />

with customers, centred on our values and<br />

ethics, distinguishes us and remains a key<br />

reason why four million customers choose<br />

to bank with the Co-operative Bank.<br />

“The board and management team<br />

believe there is strong potential to build<br />

the franchise.”<br />

But the bank’s use of its current brand<br />

has an uncertain future. The Co-operative<br />

Bank trademark belongs to the bank, but<br />

the Group has objected to an application to<br />

register ‘The Co-op Bank’ as a trademark.<br />

The bank’s co-operative nature is also<br />

monitored quarterly by Co-operatives UK.<br />

“With its shift in ownership in 2013,<br />

the Co-operative Bank sought to embed<br />

its co-operative values and ethics in its<br />

vision, its constitution and its guiding<br />

documents,” said Ed Mayo, secretary<br />

general of Co-operatives UK. “To assure<br />

that the bank is operating in line with<br />

these, Co-operatives UK worked with the<br />

International Co-operative Alliance to<br />

develop a set of criteria and we assess the<br />

Bank’s activities regularly<br />

“The Co-operative Bank, though no<br />

longer a member-owned co-op, is without<br />

question a business that promotes cooperatives<br />

and works in line with the<br />

movement’s values and ethics and all<br />

those who wish to see that continue<br />

should wish it well.”<br />

Laura Carstensen, chair of the bank’s<br />

values and ethics committee, added:<br />

“We stepped up our support for the cooperative<br />

sector through our sponsorship<br />

of The Hive, a new business support<br />

programme for people wanting to start or<br />

grow co-ops or community enterprises.<br />

“I am delighted that the partnership has<br />

already been able to help 77 co-operatives<br />

and other groups.”<br />

Co-op Energy has announced a new<br />

range of targets for community energy<br />

development in the UK.<br />

The supplier, part of the Midcounties<br />

Co-operative,has 40 power purchase<br />

agreements in place with community<br />

energy generators, up from nine in 2014.<br />

It wants to increase that to 60 over the<br />

next three years.<br />

It is also supporting trials of innovative<br />

new ‘time of use’ and ‘local energy’ tariff,<br />

has pledged to work with schools and<br />

local groups to demonstrate the positive<br />

impacts of community energy and will<br />

continue the lobbying of policy makers<br />

for a more balanced regulatory regime.<br />

The new commitments form part of a<br />

new Community Energy Strategy that<br />

will be reviewed annually, with progress<br />

reported in Midcounties’ annual Social<br />

Responsibility Report.<br />


Co-operatives UK opens<br />

election nominations<br />

Co-operatives UK has opened<br />

nominations for its board and worker<br />

co‐op council elections.<br />

Five categories will be contested this<br />

year – consumer-owned; federations;<br />

mixed ownership; enterprise-owned;<br />

and retail consumer. Four seats are also<br />

available for the worker co-op council.<br />

Nomination forms must be received by<br />

13 <strong>April</strong>. If elections are contested, voting<br />

will open 2 May–19 June and results<br />

announced on 23 June.<br />

u For eligibility criteria and election<br />

resources, visit s.coop/elections<strong>2017</strong><br />

APRIL <strong>2017</strong> | 7


p Claire Davison (left), Emily Wade (top right) and Bryony Moore, directors of Manchester clothing co-op Stitched Up, get ready for<br />

the six-garment challenge to raise awareness of working conditions in the fashion industry. Directors and members will wear just six<br />

items of clothing over six weeks. The co-op, formed as an alternative to high street retailers, works in garment making and upcycling<br />

workshops, clothes-swap parties and sewing machine hire. Read more: s.coop/sixitemchallenge<br />


Responsibility initiatives at Group focus on environment and community<br />

Co-op Insurance has launched a scheme<br />

to offset 10% of its new customers’ motor<br />

and home carbon emissions for the first<br />

year of their policy by backing carbon<br />

reduction projects in Ghana and Kenya.<br />

For each motor policy it will offset 10%<br />

of customers’ cars carbon dioxide (CO2)<br />

emissions in the first year by supporting<br />

the provision of cookstoves in Ghana,<br />

which are up to 50% more efficient than<br />

the stoves they replace.<br />

For each home policy, Co-op Insurance<br />

will offset 10% of customers’ home CO2<br />

emissions in the first year by buying water<br />

filters, to offer safe drinking water to<br />

families in Kenya. Produced by LifeStraw,<br />

the filters save energy because they do not<br />

require electricity or boiled water.<br />

The initiative will help protect families<br />

from waterborne diseases, a leading cause<br />

of death among children and adults.<br />

Co-op Insurance is part of the Co-op<br />

Group, which sources 99% of its electricity<br />

from renewables and has reduced its<br />

direct carbon footprint by 43% since 2006.<br />

Mark Summerfield, chief executive of<br />

Co-op Insurance, said: “We were one of the<br />

first businesses to recognise and respond<br />

to the impacts of climate change. Since<br />

then we have reduced our greenhouse gas<br />

emissions from our operations, purchased<br />

renewable electricity and have offset more<br />

than a million tonnes of carbon since we<br />

first introduced carbon offsetting on our<br />

products 10 years ago.<br />

“We are now offering a carbon offset as<br />

standard on all home and motor policies<br />

in the first year, at no extra cost to our<br />

customers, and are making sure to choose<br />

projects that are checked to a stringent<br />

standard and have added benefits in the<br />

developing world.”<br />

Other announcements from the Group<br />

include an extension of its funeral<br />

policy for children. For the past 30 years,<br />

Funeralcare has not made any charge for<br />

funeral director services for families who<br />

have lost a child under the age of 16.<br />

Now this will be extended to cover 16<br />

and 17 year olds, with increased options<br />

available to families under the policy.<br />

The company, which has also committed<br />

to online transparency over costs, says<br />

this will help families hit by unexpected<br />

costs at an upsetting time.<br />

The Group has also announced a joint<br />

venture to create an online platform<br />

to create sustainable supply chains for<br />

brands, manufacturers and retailers.<br />

It joins Mars, WRAP and the Carbon<br />

Trust on the Manufacture 2030 project,<br />

which helps companies draw up plans<br />

and share information on supply chains.<br />

8 | APRIL <strong>2017</strong>


CAMRA awards for<br />

village pubs saved by<br />

their communities<br />

The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) has<br />

given its National Pub of the Year award to<br />

the a small local saved from closure by its<br />

village community.<br />

The George & Dragon pub in Hudswell,<br />

North Yorkshire, closed in 2008 but was<br />

renovated and reopened two years later<br />

by Hudswell Community Pub Ltd, formed<br />

by locals to buy the site. The pub now also<br />

serves as a meeting place, venue, village<br />

library and local shop.<br />

Paul Ainsworth from Camra said: “The<br />

George & Dragon is a great example of<br />

how a pub has been resurrected as a true<br />

community asset.<br />

“It goes to show that in the right<br />

hands a closed pub can become viable<br />

and successful. We are very impressed<br />

with the work the community group has<br />

undertaken to save their local.”<br />

Landlord Stu Miller added: “We are<br />

truly thrilled to have been recognised by<br />

Camra. We’re a small Yorkshire Dales pub,<br />

owned by the community and run by me<br />

and my family, I’m extremely proud of<br />

what our little pub has achieved.”<br />

James Alcock, general manager at<br />

Plunkett Foundation, which provided<br />

support for the George & Dragon,<br />

added: “Community-owned pubs are an<br />

exceptional example of how a community<br />

can succeed in running an enterprise.<br />

“Within a short space of time, a<br />

community has rallied together in order to<br />

save a vital village resource and have now<br />

been rewarded for all their hard work.”<br />

Camra honoured another community<br />

pub, naming the King’s Arms, in<br />

p Camra’s Ken Davies presents the award to<br />

George & Dragon landlord Stuart Miller (right)<br />

and his wife Melissa<br />

Top: The George & Dragon pub<br />

Shouldham, its West Norfolk Pub of the<br />

Year for the second year running. The 17th<br />

century pub was saved from closure by<br />

locals after it was put up for sale in 2012.<br />

They set up a community company,<br />

Shouldham Community Enterprises (SCE),<br />

and after a fundraising appeal reopened it<br />

September 2014.<br />

Landlord Ian Skinner said: “A big thank<br />

you must go to our fantastic team, to our<br />

customers, to the breweries who supply us<br />

with great beer and of course to drinkers<br />

and CAMRA members who voted for us.”<br />

u Plunkett holds its More Than Pub<br />

Conference, for anyone involved or looking to<br />

start up a community pub, on 18 May at Coin<br />

Street Conference Centre, London. Details at<br />

s.coop/25u0h<br />

p The King’s Arms in Shouldham<br />

p The Triple Hop, Golden and IPA beers<br />

RETAIL<br />

Co-op calls on members<br />

to write beer notes<br />

The Co-op Group has been working to<br />

engage its members’ voice – and now that<br />

voice has been given an unusual forum,<br />

on the retailer’s new bottled beers.<br />

In a tasting trial, 100 cases of the<br />

Group’s new Golden Ale, Triple Hop and<br />

IPA beers were sent to members, and<br />

three of their comments were chosen to<br />

go on the labels.<br />

The tasting notes for the Golden Ale<br />

came from Michael Gibbons from Luton;<br />

the Triple Hop was written by Sam<br />

Dineley from Bristol, and the IPA was<br />

written by Tom Packman from Essex.<br />

As a thank-you, the trio were invited<br />

to Frederick Robinson’s Brewery in<br />

Stockport, where the ales are made, to<br />

watch the first Triple Hop bottles coming<br />

off the line. They were also given a<br />

brewery tour and beer tasting.<br />

p Richard Dennett (left) with the three beer<br />

tasters at Robinson’s Brewery<br />

Richard Dennett, senior buyer for<br />

beers, ciders and spirits, said members<br />

were “thrilled to be asked to taste our<br />

new ales and took to Twitter to share<br />

what they were doing”.<br />

The top rated beer was the 5.5% ABV<br />

Triple Hop, scoring a 3.8 out of five.<br />

The project follows a member voice<br />

exercise in Holmfirth where bottles of<br />

wine were given to members for a tasting.<br />

APRIL <strong>2017</strong> | 9


Michael Jones (1932-<strong>2017</strong>)<br />

Turned family jeweller into<br />

a co-op and founded the<br />

Daily Bread Co-operative<br />

Michael Jones, who handed over his<br />

jewellery business as a co-operative to his<br />

staff in 1970, has died aged 85.<br />

He founded Northampton and Banbury<br />

firm Michael Jones Jeweller and cofounded<br />

the Daily Bread Co-operative – a<br />

Christian workers’ co-op specialising in<br />

packing and selling wholefoods – in 1976,.<br />

He died on 5 March, 18 days after<br />

collapsing at his home from a stroke.<br />

Friends and relatives remembered a man<br />

guided by kindness and faith.<br />

Mr Jones took over the family business<br />

– formed by his parents in 1919 as a<br />

pawnbroker – when his father died in<br />

1960. Three years later he decided to turn<br />

it into “one of the best jeweller’s in the<br />

county” and then, in 1970, turned it into a<br />

co-op, with his workers as shared owners.<br />

It is still thriving with a turnover of £5m.<br />

He later said: “In my business life my<br />

best decision was to turn the company<br />

into a co-operative, owned and managed<br />

by those who worked in it.<br />

“I did this because I believed the<br />

scriptural teaching that those who lead<br />

are the servants of those who are led<br />

and that the enterprise in which people<br />

worked is at its best when it is owned and<br />

managed by those who work in it.”<br />

Daily Bread was the first co-op to<br />

register under a set of worker co-op model<br />

rules later used by hundreds of other coops,<br />

and is listed as ‘Co-op No.1’ under the<br />

Industrial Common Ownership Movement<br />

(ICOM), now part of Co-operatives UK.<br />

Co-founder Roger Sawtell said: “We<br />

were friends and co-operative colleagues<br />

for almost 50 years. We registered Daily<br />

Bread Co-operative as a trial run for the<br />

ICOM Model Rules, with Michael, myself<br />

and five others as signatories and founder<br />

members. These rules were subsequently<br />

used by several hundred co-ops.”<br />

Daily Bread was part of Mr Jones’ efforts<br />

to translate his Christian beliefs into a<br />

business environment, selling ethical,<br />

organic and Fairtrade products.<br />

Its aims were to provide employment<br />

people with mental disability or those<br />

rehabilitating into society; to run the<br />

business in an ecologically friendly<br />

manner; and to donate a proportion of<br />

income to help communities.<br />

Mr Sawtell said: “He could have been<br />

a millionaire several times over and<br />

would not describe himself as an obvious<br />

co-operative pioneer, but his life-long<br />

deep-seated Christian beliefs challenged<br />

him to transform the business.”<br />

Pam Walker (1953-<strong>2017</strong>)<br />

A leading light of co-operative education<br />

Pam Walker, who died on 28 February<br />

from a stroke, was a gifted teacher and a<br />

natural co-operator whose talents came<br />

together when she became the member<br />

education officer for the Ipswich and<br />

Norwich Co-operative Society, write Bill<br />

Knowles and Richard Bickle.<br />

During the 1990s, as partnership<br />

manager with the Suffolk Education<br />

Business Partnership, Pam came into<br />

contact with the co-op movement.<br />

Working with the Ipswich Co-operative<br />

Society’s education officer, Richard<br />

Risebrow, she arranged for some teachers<br />

to be seconded to the society to develop<br />

the ‘Co-op 125’ project marking the 125th<br />

anniversary of the Ipswich Co-op in 1993.<br />

This included a mocked-up 1940s<br />

grocery at the Ipswich department store,<br />

learning resources for schools and the<br />

training of a group of co-op pensioners<br />

to deliver lessons. Following the merger<br />

of the Ipswich and Norwich Societies,<br />

the schools work expanded with the<br />

development of a programme which<br />

included a delegation to the Co-operative<br />

College’s annual education conferences.<br />

In 2000 Pam was elected to the<br />

society’s education committee. When<br />

Mr Risebrow retired the following year,<br />

she was appointed his successor, a role<br />

she pursued with characteristic vigour,<br />

enthusiasm and good humour. Her role<br />

saw her help form First Question, a worker<br />

co-op of trainers used by the society and<br />

other clients.<br />

When the Co-operative College ceased<br />

its annual conferences, Pam stepped in<br />

and organised nine consecutive events.<br />

After Ipswich & Norwich became part<br />

of the East of England Co-operative,<br />

the agenda for member and community<br />

engagement moved away from education<br />

and Pam took a job with Rural Action<br />

East. She kept her link to the movement<br />

through Co-operatives East and First<br />

Question. These years were not easy for<br />

her but her adventurous spirit led her to<br />

travel to India stay for several months<br />

with a pen friend.<br />

Despite health challenges, Pam<br />

remained one of the driving forces of First<br />

Question and at the time of her death was<br />

Chair of Co-operatives East.<br />

Her legacy can be seen in the work of<br />

groups at the Education Centre in Ipswich<br />

and the recent research for another society<br />

which shows that for every £1 spent on<br />

member groups and classes, there is a<br />

social benefit to the wider community of<br />

more than £20.<br />

10 | APRIL <strong>2017</strong>

Tamworth Co-op supports charities with bag scheme<br />

Tamworth Co-op is using the 5p charge<br />

on plastic shopping bags to support local<br />

charities, and has handed out £20,000<br />

to four organisations in its trading area.<br />

Starfish, Heart of Tamworth, Community<br />

Together and Tamworth Sea Cadets have<br />

each received £5,000 through the society’s<br />

newly launched Cash in the Bag scheme.<br />

Paul Bull (1957-<strong>2017</strong>)<br />

Co-op Party councillor,<br />

delegate and activist<br />

Paul Bull, a long-standing activist for the<br />

Co-operative Party, has died aged 60.<br />

He sat as South West delegate to the<br />

national executive committee since 2014<br />

and represented the Party on Exeter<br />

City Council, where he was the lead for<br />

communities and culture.<br />

He died from cancer on February 19,<br />

with his wife Rachel – also a councillor for<br />

Exeter – at his side.<br />

In the last weeks of his life, he continued<br />

his duties, chairing of a meeting of the<br />

Exeter Board and taking to the pitch<br />

during an Exeter City FC match during<br />

half-time to sign the council up to the<br />

Exeter Dementia Action Alliance.<br />

Luke Pollard, who stood for the Party<br />

in the seat of Plymouth Sutton and<br />

Devonport, said: “His death leaves us<br />

poorer as a region and as a movement.”<br />

Writing on the Party’s website, he<br />

added: “The ever-present smiling gent,<br />

encouraging and supportive, he will be<br />

remembered not just as a good, decent<br />

man, but as someone who campaigned<br />

for and represented his community and<br />

his beliefs with true humility.<br />

“The memories and tributes speak to<br />

a man held in high regard by all those<br />

who met. A kind patient man, Paul was<br />

rarely rushed, taking time to speak to and<br />

understand all those around him.<br />

“His participation in local groups, in<br />

co-operatives, the Exeter Pound local<br />

currency and community causes marked<br />

him out as one of the co-op movement’s<br />

heroes: quietly and passionately getting<br />

on with the task of making the world a<br />

better place one person at a time, giving<br />

everyone the time they deserved and each<br />

cause the attention it deserved.”<br />

East of England Co-op regeneration plan for Ipswich<br />

East of England Co-op has revealed plans<br />

to regenerate important parts of Ipswich<br />

using its extensive property portfolio.<br />

The society is going through the planning<br />

process to develop new school, health<br />

centre, stores and housing, and has<br />

invested over £4million in its retail centre<br />

at Rosehill, Ipswich.<br />

Shelagh Hancock replaces Mike Gallacher at First Milk<br />

Mike Gallacher is stepping down as CEO<br />

of British dairy farmers’ co-op First Milk,<br />

after leading a two-year revamp which<br />

drove a £30m improvement in its financial<br />

performance. Replacement Shelagh<br />

Hancock has over 25 years’ experience in<br />

the food and agricultural supply sectors,<br />

most recently as MD at Medina Dairy.<br />

Channel Islands trolleys for children with special needs<br />

The Channel Islands Co-op has ordered<br />

trolleys with seats big enough for to carry<br />

older children with special needs after an<br />

online campaign. The society is taking<br />

delivery of eight of the trolleys, which<br />

have seats big enough for older children,<br />

with four each to be placed in its St Helier<br />

and St Peter Grand Marché stores.<br />

The Hive supports 100 groups in its first year<br />

A £10, 000 donation from the Southern<br />

Co-operative helped Hampshire & Isle of<br />

Wight Wildlife Trust buy 31-acre farm<br />

Hockley Meadows Farm, near Twyford,<br />

Hants. The farm, on a floodplain, is<br />

home to rare species such as the water<br />

vole, otter and southern damselfly. The<br />

society’s Gemma Lacey is pictured at<br />

work on the site.<br />

APRIL <strong>2017</strong> | 11


UK retail co-ops spread the message with Fairtrade Fortnight events<br />

p Heart of England Co-operative paid a visit to Hinckley<br />

Library, where children were given Fairtrade bananas and<br />

cookies while their parents were told about the plight of<br />

produces in developing countries. The society has also<br />

donated tea, coffee and biscuits for all coffee mornings<br />

held at the library over Fairtrade Fortnight. Pictured: Philip<br />

Lindley, from Hinckley and Bosworth Fairtrade Committee;<br />

local mayor Richard Allen; and Jo Dyke, community and<br />

membership adviser at Heart of England<br />

p Scotmid Co-op backed the Edinburgh Fairtrade Festival on 11 March.<br />

Held at the Eric Liddell Centre in Morningside, it drew hundreds of<br />

people to hear about the importance of Fairtrade. The day featured talks<br />

from international speaker Lousi Albadawi, Lord Provost Donald Wilson<br />

and Scotmid’s head of corporate communications, Malcolm Brown –<br />

all underlining the importance of Fairtrade and promoting its values.<br />

Edinburgh has been a Fairtrade City since 2004.<br />


Survey finds we don’t think about who<br />

produces the food on our plate<br />

A poll by Atomic Research shows that<br />

nearly a quarter of adults in the UK never<br />

think about the people producing their<br />

food and drink.<br />

The research, which came as organisers<br />

of Fairtrade Fortnight looked to raise<br />

awareness of the exploitation of smallscale<br />

farmers, found a quarter of British<br />

people never consider the farmers and<br />

workers who produce their daily cup of<br />

tea. And almost two in ten (17%) have<br />

never thought about whether their<br />

food has been produced in exploitative<br />

conditions where producers do not receive<br />

a fair deal for what they grow.<br />

According to the Fairtrade Foundation,<br />

the average cocoa farmer in Ivory Coast<br />

lives on less than 40p a day. In Kenya, one<br />

in three coffee and tea growing regions live<br />

in poverty. Furthermore, over two million<br />

farmers work in hazardous conditions in<br />

Ivory Coast and Ghana.<br />

The foundation expects <strong>2017</strong> to be an<br />

uncertain years in terms of international<br />

trade, particularly with the UK having to<br />

renegotiate more than 50 international<br />

trade deals once it exits the EU.<br />

Chief executive<br />

Michael Gidney said:<br />

“Fairtrade is bringing<br />

lasting change to the<br />

lives of 1.6 million<br />

farmers and workers<br />

around the world and<br />

it’s wonderful to see p Do you think about the people growing your tea?<br />

Fairtrade bucking the<br />

market trend with strong growth.<br />

“Yet too many companies still do not<br />

publish what they pay their producers. It’s<br />

time to really push the direct connection<br />

between the food we buy and their impact<br />

on farmers’ livelihoods. If people really<br />

knew, and thought about it, would they<br />

still make the same choices?”<br />

foods without necessarily questioning<br />

what lies behind them – seduced by<br />

nice packaging, or attractive products<br />

and brands – we may be unconsciously<br />

feeding exploitation,” added Mr Gidney.<br />

The foundation produced a short film<br />

for the fortnight, presenting the realities<br />

of exploited farmers and showing how<br />

The poll, which surveyed 2,000 buying Fairtrade can make a difference.<br />

British adults, reveals that once told<br />

about the difference their purchasing<br />

power can make, over 70% of people<br />

said they wanted to make sure their<br />

food and drink is not produced in<br />

exploitative conditions. Three quarters<br />

said they would look for an ethically<br />

sourced product.<br />

“When we reach for our everyday<br />

“If we all put Fairtrade into our shopping<br />

baskets, that would be an incredible<br />

opportunity to reach more producers<br />

with even more impact, but it would also<br />

be a powerful signal to companies, and<br />

to government, that there are millions<br />

of people who do not want their food to<br />

come at the cost of exploiting farmers,”<br />

added Mr Gidney.<br />

12 | APRIL <strong>2017</strong>

p East of England Co-op visited local schools to raise awareness<br />

of Fairtrade. Pupils at the Gilberd in Colchester, Cobholm Primary<br />

School (pictured) in Great Yarmouth and Sir John Leman School in<br />

Beccles found out how Fairtrade has a positive effect on farmers<br />

and producers across the world and held Fairtrade breaks with<br />

goods donated by the society.<br />

p Central England Co-operative organised a series of classes in<br />

schools to teach children about the movement. An assembly for<br />

140 children at Tibshelf Infant and Nursery School, in Alfreton,<br />

taught them about Fairtrade and healthy eating. The society<br />

organised Healthy Choices workshops offering the chance for<br />

children to get hands-on with a range of activities, including how<br />

to make fun fruit kebabs, understand food labelling and get meal<br />

portion sizes right so that no food goes to waste.<br />

u Channel Islands Co-operative set nine<br />

students from Guernsey’s College of Further<br />

Education the challenge of cooking a chocolate<br />

cake recipe using only Fairtrade ingredients. A<br />

delicious range of cakes, desserts and gateaux<br />

were created by the students and judged by<br />

food lecturer at the college, Julie Hyde and chief<br />

marketing officer for the Channel Islands Cooperative<br />

Society, Greg Yeoman. The winner was<br />

17-year-old Liam Torode who took away a prize<br />

of £150 worth of Co-operative vouchers, whilst<br />

Georgina Watson took second place winning<br />

herself £50 worth of vouchers.<br />

p A wine tasting at Chelmsford Star’s Quadrant store heard<br />

testimonials from farmers in Argentina, South Africa and<br />

Guatemala on how Fairtrade wine helps producer villages build<br />

education facilities, buy ambulances and employ doctors.<br />

The society’s membership committee, mayor’s escort Graham<br />

Moulds, Chelmsford mayor Patricia Hughes, and Malcolm Wallace<br />

from Chelmsford City Fairtrade Campaign are pictured sampling<br />

wine with Essex Wine School owner Neil Bull.<br />

p Staff at Midcounties stores turned their shop floors into<br />

Fairtrade classrooms for the fortnight, with sampling sessions,<br />

treasure hunts and events for schools. Children who visited stores<br />

like Hazlemere (above) received a free Fairtrade banana as part<br />

of the relaunch of Free Fruit Friday, and the society introduced its<br />

first Fairtrade Shopping List recipe booklet.<br />

APRIL <strong>2017</strong> | 13


GLOBAL<br />

<strong>2017</strong> International Day of Co-operatives will celebrate inclusion<br />

The world’s co-operators will celebrate<br />

the global movement on 1 July – and this<br />

year the theme is inclusion.<br />

The theme for the United Nations<br />

International Day of Co-operatives<br />

was chosen by the Committee for the<br />

Promotion and Advancement of Cooperatives<br />

(COPAC), currently chaired by<br />

the International Co-operative Alliance.<br />

Inclusion is a reflection of the peoplefocused<br />

nature of co-ops, and is also<br />

intrinsic to the movement’s principles<br />

of voluntary and open membership,<br />

democratic member control and member<br />

economic participation.<br />

The Alliance says: “Co-operatives<br />

provide a space where all people,<br />

regardless of race, gender, culture, social<br />

background or economic circumstance,<br />

can meet their needs and build better<br />

communities.”<br />

The theme will be addressed further at<br />

the Alliance’s Global Conference in Kuala<br />

Lumpur, Malaysia on 15-16 November,<br />

which will discuss “Putting people at the<br />

centre of development”.<br />

COPAC will continue the International<br />

Day celebrations at the UN at the Highlevel<br />

Political Forum for Sustainable<br />

Development, from 10-19 July.<br />

The forum brings together governments<br />

and UN officials to review implementation<br />

of the Sustainable Development Goals<br />

(SDGs).<br />

u Those interested in attending the UN<br />

celebration should contact Fran McCrae at<br />

mccrae@ica.coop.<br />

u The Alliance will release more details<br />

about the International Day, and tools for<br />

co-ops, at www.coopsday.coop.<br />

USA<br />

Leisure co-op REI and Navy Federal Credit Union among Fortune 100<br />

best companies to work for<br />

Leisure co-op giant REI and armed forces<br />

credit union Navy Federal have been listed<br />

as two of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to<br />

Work For.<br />

Navy Federal Credit Union entered the<br />

rankings at 47 – its seventh year on the<br />

list. Founded in 1933 to serve members<br />

of the armed forces, it is the world’s<br />

largest credit union, employing 14,153<br />

people across 273 sites, with revenues of<br />

$4,720.4m.<br />

Retailer REI – which sells sporting,<br />

outdoor and camping gear and offers<br />

outdoor holidays and courses – is placed<br />

28 in the ranking. The 6 million-member<br />

co-op scooped the accolade for its 20th<br />

consecutive year, and is one of just 12<br />

companies to be included since the<br />

annual list began in 1998.<br />

“This is an amazing honour and we<br />

are all very proud to be recognised for 20<br />

straight years,” said chief executive and<br />

president Jerry Stritzke. “Our placement<br />

on this list for the past two decades is a<br />

reflection of our employees throughout<br />

the country, so I want to thank all of them<br />

for making REI a great place to work.”<br />

He added: “We put our purpose above<br />

profits and I think that’s a huge reason<br />

why people love working here, stay<br />

here for a long time and do such great,<br />

impactful work.”<br />

Fortune compiles its list through an<br />

extensive survey of more than 276,000<br />

employees at companies with more than<br />

1,000 employees. Surveys at REI – which<br />

is based in Washington state and has<br />

12,000 employees – found engagement<br />

levels routinely exceed 85%, while 93%<br />

of co-op employees believe in the co-op’s<br />

vision. Its combined pay and benefits lead<br />

the industry, retail turnover is almost half<br />

the industry standard and retention of<br />

full-time employees is 90%.<br />

REI announced record revenues for<br />

2016 and highlighted how it gives back<br />

nearly 70% of its profits to the outdoor<br />

community. It reported annual revenues<br />

p Colleagues at REI’s flagship Seattle store<br />

celebrate the co-op closing its stores for<br />

Black Friday (Photo: Suzi Pratt/Getty Images)<br />

of $2.56bn in 2016, a 5.5% increase from<br />

2015. The co-op invested a record $9.3m in<br />

nonprofit partners in 2016 and opened the<br />

country’s most sustainable distribution<br />

centre. This year, REI members received a<br />

record $193.7 million in annual dividends<br />

and credit card rebates.<br />

14 | APRIL <strong>2017</strong>

USA<br />

US credit unions<br />

hit out at Trump<br />

budget plan<br />

President Trump has unveiled a $1.15<br />

trillion budget plan which hikes defence<br />

spending by a $54bn while proposing huge<br />

cuts to domestic programmes – including<br />

several that support and develop co-ops<br />

in the US and abroad.<br />

Trump’s ‘America First’ plan – a nonbinding<br />

outline of budget priorities –<br />

includes $4.7bn in cuts to discretionary<br />

spending at the US Department of<br />

Agriculture. This would axe the Rural<br />

Cooperative Development Grant, which<br />

offers rural development support.<br />

Judy Ziewacz, president and CEO<br />

of the National Cooperative Business<br />

Association, said the plan “appears<br />

to directly and negatively impact<br />

co-operative business of all sizes.<br />

“On behalf of the over 120 million<br />

members of co-operatives and 40,000<br />

co-operative businesses throughout the<br />

nation that inject over $600bn back into<br />

the economy, we express strong concern<br />

about the direction of this proposal.”<br />

The Community Development Financial<br />

Institutions Fund (CDFI), which includes<br />

more than 280 credit unions, also faces<br />

potential cuts.<br />

“The administration’s dramatic<br />

reduction of funding to the CDFI Fund<br />

will negatively impact its stated goal<br />

to invest in America’s infrastructure,”<br />

said Cathie Mahon, CEO of the National<br />

Federation of Community Development<br />

Credit Unions. “CDFIs are one of the most<br />

effective mechanisms to channel capital<br />

into under-resourced communities.”<br />

The fund was established in 1994 to<br />

give under-served communities access<br />

to financial services. Officials from the<br />

Credit Union National Association and<br />

the National Association of Federally-<br />

Insured Credit Unions said they will fight<br />

to protect its funding.<br />

There is also a $1.7bn (5.6%) cut for<br />

energy, with three research programmes<br />

cut in favour of private sector research.<br />

But Jim Matheson, CEO of the National<br />

Rural Electric Cooperative Association,<br />

said: “This is only the first step in the<br />

budget process. We will continue to work<br />

with the White House and Congress.”<br />

Coop Switzerland launches Jamie Oliver line<br />

Coop Switzerland has launched a range<br />

of barbecue products with TV chef Jamie<br />

Oliver. The launch is accompanied by a<br />

loyalty scheme, Trophée Coop Jamie Oliver,<br />

which gives shoppers a stamp for every ten<br />

francs spent. The chef’s association with<br />

the retailer began in 2007 when it stocked<br />

his kitchen kit and food ranges.<br />

Co-operative law under review in Singapore<br />

A new set of laws is being considered<br />

to improve the governance of co-ops in<br />

Singapore, with a review of the country’s<br />

Co-operative Societies Act. The move was<br />

announced by Grace Fu (left), minister for<br />

culture, community and youth, who said<br />

the measure was particularly important<br />

for co-ops within the financial sector.<br />

Philippines looking to remove co-op VAT tax exemptions<br />

The Philippines’ Department of Finance<br />

is proposing a comprehensive tax reform<br />

that threatens to leave co-operatives<br />

worse off. The reform is aimed at lowering<br />

personal income taxes, but would see<br />

taxes introduced on sales by co-ops to<br />

their members, sales of co-op produce,<br />

and lending by credit unions.<br />

The Co-operators backs Newfoundland social project<br />

A community cafe in St John’s, on<br />

Newfoundland, Canada, is offering work<br />

to marginalised people thanks to 10 years<br />

of funding worth $200,000 from insurance<br />

group The Co-operators. The Hungry Heart<br />

Café was set up by charity Stella’s Circle<br />

which supports adults with problems such<br />

as addiction, poverty and homelessness.<br />

New store concept and online trade boosts Coop Sweden<br />

Coop Sweden has seen a rise of SEK 70m<br />

in operating profit before exceptional<br />

items to SEK 236m (£21.57). Throughout<br />

2016 the retailer converted 53 stores to<br />

its new store formats, Stora Coop, Coop<br />

and Lilla Coop, which helped boost sales.<br />

Online sales also increased by 51% in a<br />

market that has seen a 30% increase.<br />

APRIL <strong>2017</strong> | 15


African women look to co-ops to create leadership network<br />

The Africa for Africa Women’s Organization<br />

marked International Women’s Day with<br />

a conference focused on the role of co-ops<br />

and small and medium enterprises (SMEs)<br />

in women’s empowerment.<br />

The event featured experts, entrepreneurs<br />

and relevant ministers from Africa and<br />

representatives from global organisations.<br />

Already in its second edition, the conference<br />

took place on 7-9 March at Feather Market<br />

Centre in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.<br />

One of the keynote speakers was Ms<br />

Pumzile Mlambo Ngcuka, the UN undersecretary-general<br />

and executive director of<br />

UN Women.<br />

The conference explored the role of<br />

women co-ops and SMEs in meeting the<br />

African Union’s Agenda 2063, a framework<br />

for the socio-economic transformation of<br />

the continent.<br />

“Annually, thousands of events are held<br />

throughout the world on 8 March to inspire<br />

women and celebrate their achievements,”<br />

said conference convenor Bea Hackula,<br />

herself a business leader.<br />

AAWC<strong>2017</strong> is not only about the<br />

commemoration of the international<br />

women’s day, but the kick start of intra<br />

and intercontinental collaboration towards<br />

p Participants attending the first Africa for Africa International Women’s Day Conference, 2016<br />

the realisation of Vision 2063 through case<br />

study and round table engagements.<br />

The conference explored how to grow<br />

local economies and ensure sustainable<br />

livelihoods through effective women cooperative<br />

structures and analysed trends<br />

in particular sectors such as agriculture,<br />

manufacturing and textile, hospitality and<br />

tourism and finance.<br />

Organisers hope the conference<br />

will provide a platform to create a<br />

dynamic network of women leaders and<br />

entrepreneurs to champion the cause of<br />

women emancipation.<br />

p Massachusetts Mutual has developed a<br />

financial education programme for young<br />

people<br />

GLOBAL<br />

Mutuals make list of world’s ethical business<br />

Several mutuals and customer-owned<br />

businesses have been placed on a list of<br />

the world’s most ethical companies.<br />

The list is compiled annually by<br />

the Ethisphere Institute, which rates<br />

companies on ethics and compliance;<br />

corporate citizenship and responsibility;<br />

culture of ethics; governance; and<br />

leadership, innovation and reputation.<br />

The list includes US mutuals Cuna<br />

Mutual Group Financial Services, TIAA<br />

Financial Services, USAA Insurance, and<br />

Massachusetts Mutual Life.<br />

Australia’s Teachers Mutual Bank also<br />

made the list, as did US worker-owned<br />

engineering company CH2M.<br />

A number of customer owned<br />

organisations made the list, including US<br />

mutual legal reserve company Health Care<br />

Service Corporation and US healthcare<br />

company Vizient. Two Christian fraternal<br />

benefit societies, including Thrivent<br />

Financial – which operates a US credit<br />

union – were also listed.<br />

A total of 124 companies were included,<br />

from 52 industry sectors headquartered in<br />

19 countries.<br />

Steve James, CEO of Teachers Mutual<br />

Bank – listed for the fourth consecutive<br />

year – said: “To be one of only three banks<br />

recognised tells us we are achieving our<br />

aim of setting the standard for ethical<br />

practices in banking.”<br />

Massachusetts Mutual is on the list<br />

for the third consecutive year. It has<br />

provided financial education for more<br />

than 30,000 young people as part of its<br />

FutureSmart programme.<br />

It teamed up with NBA teams to launch<br />

interactive seminars at basketball arenas<br />

to promote the importance of savings and<br />

career choices.<br />

16 | APRIL <strong>2017</strong>

ITALY<br />

Coop Alleanza<br />

launches online<br />

food shopping for<br />

10,000 products<br />

p Simon Bridges, New Zealand minister for economic development, transport and<br />

communications, and associate minister for finance, at the Cooperative Business Leaders Forum<br />


New Zealand minister highlights role of<br />

co-ops in country’s economy<br />

Co-operative business leaders from across<br />

New Zealand met in Auckland for a<br />

national forum on 3 March.<br />

Organised by Cooperative Business New<br />

Zealand, the event let co-operators share<br />

successful stories and learn from each<br />

other, and saw a speech by Simon Bridges,<br />

minister for economic development,<br />

transport and communications, and<br />

associate minister for finance.<br />

“[Co-operatives are] a really big part<br />

of the economy and you’ve stayed very<br />

strong for a long time. You’re responsible<br />

for 20% of our GDP and those profits and<br />

value stay local,” said Mr Bridges.<br />

Delegates also heard from Dr Lisa<br />

Callagher from the University of<br />

Auckland’s Business School and Dr<br />

Elena Garnevska from Massey University,<br />

who discussed their recent report, The<br />

New Zealand Co-operative Economy.<br />

“This independent survey, the results<br />

of which can be found on our website,<br />

provides a much-needed glimpse into a<br />

sector of significant economic and social<br />

importance to New Zealand,” said Craig<br />

Presland, chief executive of CBNZ. “Our<br />

top 30 co-operatives and mutuals generate<br />

annual revenues of more than NZD<br />

$42.3bn which equates to 17.5% of New<br />

Zealand’s GDP, while being responsible<br />

for 1.4 million memberships and the<br />

employment of 48,500 Kiwis.”<br />

He added: “We now have the opportunity<br />

to extend this research further into such<br />

areas as what makes the co-operative<br />

business model one of sustainability<br />

– economically, environmentally and<br />

socially.”<br />

Mr Presland said he also hoped to see<br />

“further comparisons internationally<br />

including why there is almost a complete<br />

lack of co-operatives within the New<br />

Zealand public sector”.<br />

Italian retailer Coop Alleanza 3.0 has<br />

extended its range of ecommerce services<br />

by launching a home delivery service. A<br />

member of Coop Italia, the retailer will<br />

be offering customers an online choice<br />

of 10,000 products, including 3,000 fresh<br />

products.<br />

The online portal, www.easycoop.com,<br />

will enable consumers making orders of<br />

over €50 to arrange home deliveries for<br />

€2.90 or more, depending on delivery<br />

time. The platform is currently available<br />

to customers in the Greater Rome area<br />

but the co-op aims to extend it to other<br />

parts of the country.<br />

The EasyCoop site will be accessible<br />

from any device and will give customers<br />

the option to make orders at any time<br />

choosing delivery slots. Once orders are<br />

placed, customers are notified of the<br />

delivery time, the name of the driver and<br />

an identification code via text 30 minutes<br />

before the actual delivery.<br />

For this project Coop Alleanza is<br />

working with Milkman, an Italian home<br />

delivery enterprise. The portal was<br />

developed and managed by Digitail, a<br />

subsidiary of Coop Alleanza.<br />

In your next issue ... Governance<br />

How do co-operative customers become members? And how do members get involved in the governance of their co-op?<br />

In your May edition of Co-op News we’ll be looking at the path to becoming a director, showing how different co-ops<br />

approach the issue and speaking to directors with some very different backgrounds ...<br />

Would you like to share your story? Email editorial@thenews.coop<br />

APRIL <strong>2017</strong> | 17



(Responding to: Credit unions are the<br />

original challenger banks, but can they<br />

take collective action?)<br />

A commenter above said it was ‘odd that<br />

you don’t mention building societies here’.<br />

Building societies are technically<br />

mutuals, but for me often fail to meet some<br />

of the Co-operative principles.<br />

“Co-operatives are democratic<br />

organisations controlled by their members,<br />

who actively participate in setting their<br />

policies and making decisions.” –<br />

Nationwide occasionally send me a list<br />

of besuited white men who I am told to<br />

approve. There are no options for me to do<br />

anything but approve them. Meanwhile, if<br />

I wish to stand for election, or even submit<br />

an idea to an AGM, I need the support<br />

of 250 or 500 members respectively.<br />

Democracy feels like something of an<br />

inconvenience to them.<br />

Building societies also do not support<br />

the wider co-operative movement in<br />

the way that the Bank traditionally has<br />

done (and, as things stand, continues<br />

to do so – though we shall see how long<br />

that continues for). They are not really<br />

spiritually part of the movement.<br />

Building societies are also increasingly<br />

closing down their day-to-day banking<br />

options. I’m aware of the Coventry,<br />

Norwich & Peterborough, Yorkshire and<br />

others closing down their current accounts<br />

recently. As far as I’m aware, in fact,<br />

Nationwide is the only one that remains<br />

– and Nationwide operates very much<br />

like a bank. It isn’t a radical alternative<br />

in many senses – although I believe in<br />

mutual ownership and am a member of<br />

Nationwide, it continually disappoints me.<br />

I would love for the Co-op Bank board to<br />

come up with a radical plan. They could, if<br />

they wanted to, ask for current customers<br />

to become members by investing. They<br />

could invite credit unions to become<br />

corporate members. They could work with<br />

other co-operatives and retail societies<br />

to offer banking benefits in exchange<br />

for investment. The current board seem<br />

to want to hold onto the co-operative<br />

branding without really understanding<br />

what a co-operative rescue of the bank<br />

could look like if they set their minds to it.<br />

John Jennings<br />

Via Website<br />


(Responding to: Co-op Group extends free<br />

child funeral service to 16 and 17 year olds)<br />

When I lost my only child shockingly<br />

suddenly in 2010 my world turned upside<br />

down. The emotional devastation of not<br />

being able to protect him, no longer being<br />

able to hold him, was unbearable and<br />

bewildering. Facing a stream of practical<br />

decisions about how to even begin to<br />

arrange to celebrate his life, facing choices<br />

over whether to cremate or bury him was<br />

excruciating.<br />

So I want to applaud the generous spirit<br />

and leadership of the Co-op Funeralcare<br />

in announcing this extended support. I<br />

personally know bereaved parents who, on<br />

top of deep grief, have struggled to afford<br />

to fund their unexpected funeral of their<br />

child. No loving parent should have to bury<br />

their child but this will alleviate some of<br />

the added pressures.<br />

Fiona<br />

Via website<br />


LOYALTY?<br />

With inspiration from demonstrations<br />

around the world against President Trump,<br />

is it time for co-operators to hold one<br />

outside the Co-op Group’s Angel Square<br />

head office?<br />

Will the members’ council come together<br />

with a banner stating “Invoke the 6th<br />

principle!” and help save the Co-op Bank?<br />

The 6th principle means “working with<br />

other co-ops” and, in this case, we should<br />

work with our kindred banking partners<br />

around the world, in the earnest hope of a<br />

friendly bail out.<br />

The Save the Bank group contacted<br />

the International Co-operative Banking<br />

Association in Paris which agreed to assist,<br />

if asked. No such request was received.<br />

Council members like the old board still<br />

think it is nothing to do with them. “Time<br />

to let go,” one senior member told me.<br />

Some perspective required, first the<br />

experts say the bank isn’t a basket case with<br />

4.3 million loyal customers and significant<br />

assets. Second, in contrast, the World Coop<br />

Monitor says the co-op financial sector<br />

controls $800bn worth of assets. The<br />

Co-op Bank at best needs £800m (£45m<br />

to buy off the shares at market price and<br />

Have your say<br />

Add your comments to our stories<br />

online at www.thenews.coop, get in<br />

touch via social media, or send us<br />

a letter! If sending a letter, please<br />

include your address and contact<br />

number. Letters may be edited and no<br />

longer than 350 words.<br />

Co-operative News, Holyoake<br />

House, Hanover Street,<br />

Manchester M60 0AS<br />

letters@thenews.coop<br />

@coopnews<br />

Co-operative News<br />

£750m to act as a financial cushion as per<br />

the Regulatory body).<br />

If we are to disappear from yet another<br />

high street business, it will reflect poorly<br />

on all positions of influence we still have<br />

worldwide. We are presently hanging in<br />

relegation position, but loss of the bank<br />

could see us drop more down the leagues.<br />

Leslie Freitag<br />

Harpenden<br />

18 | APRIL <strong>2017</strong>


At Co-op News we provide a service for<br />

our readers: this service is independent,<br />

relevant, knowledgeable journalism<br />

about the co-operative movement – both<br />

in the UK and abroad.<br />

But to deliver this service, it’s important<br />

that we have an engaged membership.<br />

Our members are organisations and<br />

individual people – however, previously,<br />

readers were not always members, and<br />

members were not always readers.<br />

Happily, the relationship between<br />

member and reader has already been<br />

strengthened through a rule change<br />

last year that ensures membership and<br />

subscription are the same thing. The<br />

rule change, voted for by members at<br />

our AGM, signs all subscribers up to<br />

membership. This is open to individuals<br />

and organisations. (See right to find out<br />

how this affects you.)<br />

As our membership grows over the<br />

coming months, we’ll be launching a<br />

dedicated space for members online to<br />

share and vote on themes and story ideas<br />

for us to cover.<br />

In the meantime, if you wish to speak<br />

to our directors or have any queries/<br />

suggestions about membership, please<br />

email: members@thenews.coop.<br />

news<br />



Co-operative News is run by Co-operative Press,<br />

a multi-stakeholder co-operative owned by its members. Those members are made<br />

up of organisations and individual members.<br />

THERE ARE TWO LEVELS OF MEMBERSHIP: digital and print. Digital membership<br />

(£30 a year) means you will receive a digital version of Co-op News each month.<br />

With print membership (£60 a year) you will receive a printed copy of the magazine<br />

as well. Both levels of membership will support our independent co-operative<br />

journalism. As a member-owner, you can also take part in elections, receive<br />

updates from the board and join our open editorial meetings.<br />

ARE YOU A MEMBER? If you’re a direct subscriber to Co-op News, ie you pay for<br />

your own copy, then you are now a member. Once our dedicated member area<br />

launches online, we’ll be in touch with access details.<br />

ARE YOU A CORPORATE SUBSCRIBER? If you do not pay for your copy of Co-op<br />

News, it’s likely that your subscription is being paid for by another organisation.<br />

That organisation will be the member of Co-operative Press. But if you want to<br />

support us by signing up to digital membership you can find out more online at:<br />

www.thenews.coop/join.<br />

WHAT HAPPENS TO CURRENT MEMBERS? Since the change in membership<br />

structure, only direct subscribers can be members. For members who joined before<br />

this year, we’ll be providing a free membership extension based on your share<br />

capital. We’ll be in touch directly this month with further details.<br />

<strong>2017</strong> Elections: Individual members are invited to submit nominations to stand for election to the Co-operative Press board.<br />

To take part, visit: www.thenews.coop/nominate<br />

Meet Elaine Dean, Co-op Press chair<br />

Corporate member representing: Central England Co-operative<br />


of my family, who imbued me with a<br />

passion for this business model as a<br />

way of working together. Collectively,<br />

my family has around 230 years<br />

service to the former Derby Co-op. I’m<br />

a member of seven co-ops.<br />

I AM ON THE BOARD... as I am a lifelong reader and with my<br />

passion for written words and co-operation; I feel a perfect fit<br />

in this role. An independent Co-operative Press is vital to the<br />

wellbeing of the movement internationally and I wanted to<br />

support the change to a dynamic journal style paper as printed<br />

newspapers declined in sales.<br />

MY GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT IS... that I’ve been a continuously<br />

elected member of my local society since 1980 and I was proud<br />

to co-chair the former Co-op Union’s first Anti Racist Working<br />

Party and to chair the Midlands Section Education Council. I<br />

was especially proud to be a member of a movement that took<br />

sanctions against apartheid South Africa and which is now<br />

embracing the cause against modern slavery.<br />

ON MY FIRST DAY IN CO-OPS I WISH I KNEW THAT... co-operatives<br />

create lifelong friendships among like-minded people. Plus, if<br />

you campaign for something honestly and fairly with enough<br />

passion, it can usually be achieved.<br />

CO-OPS ARE SPECIAL BECAUSE... they encourage people to<br />

achieve together rather than to be in competition all the time.<br />


minded liberals’ image they have. They must break free of this<br />

and become modern community organisations working for the<br />

benefit of everyone, not just a select few and offering business<br />

opportunities based on sound ethics and fair trading.<br />

APRIL <strong>2017</strong> | 19

A co-operative solution for Real Farming<br />



of the Ecological Land<br />

Co-operative<br />

q Chickens at Elder Farm<br />

(image: Walter Lewis)<br />

and produce from the<br />

Steepholding family<br />

Land banking is a popular game for entrepreneurs<br />

that sows rich rewards. Land is bought by any<br />

private investors, from housing developers to<br />

supermarkets, and held onto while the value of the<br />

land grows. This is then held onto as an asset or sold<br />

at an inflated price.<br />

But land banking is not the co-op way. At Ecological<br />

Land Co-op we support the communal acquisition<br />

of land, done with the express purpose of creating<br />

opportunities for new entrants to agriculture and<br />

access to land for sustainable uses. We take on land<br />

and manage it in an ecological way – and also act as<br />

a meeting point between planning authorities and<br />

those in need of land: future growers.<br />

The average age of a farmer is 59, according to<br />

the Department for Environment, Food and Rural<br />

Affairs, and modern farmers also face increasing<br />

pressures from a globalised market. This kind of<br />

agriculture is synonymous with the industrial,<br />

broad-scale market place.<br />

We believe there are other ways to grow, and<br />

work the land, such as small-scale farming, organic<br />

management, working towards bio-diversity and<br />

‘complex’ farming that is varied, poly-cultural and<br />

needs human labour care, skill and intelligence.<br />

It is an ethic which a number of young people,<br />

who want to grow good food without the use of<br />

fertilisers and pesticides, hold. As a recent UN report<br />

concluded, the notion that hazardous pesticides are<br />

essential to feed a global population is a convenient<br />

fiction billed by global corporations with little<br />

bearing on the growth of voluminous crops.<br />

In England the odds are stacked against you if<br />

you’re wanting to start off, ecologically speaking, on<br />

the right foot, and accessing land in the first place is<br />

a huge issue. Taking a principled stand alone can be<br />

a daunting and expensive task, but done together,<br />

there’s hope. The Ecological Land Co-operative<br />

buys parcels of marginal agricultural land and<br />

splits it into smallholdings applying for planning<br />

permission for residential use. For those who can’t<br />

afford land due to high prices or who are unable,<br />

often unequipped, to sustain years-long planning<br />

battles to get permission to live and work on the<br />

land, the ELC makes possible what for many would<br />

otherwise be impossible.<br />

Centred on the development of ecological<br />

smallholdings, our work demonstrates a cooperative<br />

model of collective ownership protecting<br />

and enhancing the land, based on the ideas of<br />

conservation alongside a working country(side)<br />

— not a marginal activity, but as part of the social,<br />

cultural and economic fabric of rural communities.<br />

Based on the success of our first cluster of small<br />

farms at Greenham Reach, Devon, and currently<br />

awaiting planning permission for second site in<br />

Arlington, in east Sussex, we plan to create around<br />

22 new ecological smallholdings by 2020.<br />

To do this we need to raise funds. We’re excited<br />

to have teamed up with Ethex, experts in helping<br />

investors make positive investments simply and<br />

securely. From <strong>April</strong> we’re inviting members of the<br />

public to invest in our project. It’s investment in more<br />

land for a common good, and also an investment<br />

in a future. A future for ecological agriculture,<br />

sustainable land use and for the creation of living<br />

and working communities.<br />

u For more info on the share offer, visit ecologicalland.<br />

coop or email sonia@ecologicalland.coop<br />

20 | APRIL <strong>2017</strong>

Why did the New Internationalist change<br />

its legal structure?<br />

Staff at the New Internationalist are celebrating<br />

their 500th edition, almost a year after they decided<br />

to convert the trust which owns the magazine from<br />

a company to a co-operative society.<br />

The decision, taken last <strong>April</strong> after discussions<br />

with advisory trustees, will enable supporters of the<br />

magazine to become members.<br />

“It was always going to be a big decision to<br />

change structure,” says co-editor Hazel Healy. “This<br />

idea of opening up to become a global co-op was a<br />

big transfer of power and something we had to think<br />

about carefully before going down this road.”<br />

The conversion process took a “surprisingly long<br />

time”, she added. The team started working on<br />

governance changes in June 2016 and the society<br />

was registered by the FCA at the end of February<br />

<strong>2017</strong>. Asked what advice she would give to other<br />

businesses looking to go through a similar process,<br />

she said: “Don’t underestimate the time it takes to<br />

think these things through and make sure somebody<br />

with contracts and legal language expertise is<br />

leading on it.<br />

“On one level it is a big cultural change because we<br />

are used to being run as a worker co-op, where you<br />

make your own decisions. But that also means we<br />

are used to operating using co-operative principles,<br />

so involving our readers and supporters is a natural<br />

step in some ways. It’s uncharted territory. The<br />

real challenge is working out the mechanisms to<br />

make a global co-op work while keeping editorial<br />

independence.”<br />

Ms Healy says the new structure enables investors<br />

to be responsible for the custodianship of the<br />

publication. “The wider group of new members will<br />

make sure the publication is keeping up its mission,<br />

much as our trust did in the past.<br />

“The governance will be based on our new rules<br />

(drafted using a Somerset Rules template for a multistakeholder<br />

co-op, with the help of Alex Lawrie,<br />

development worker at Somerset Co-operative<br />

Community Land Trust) as well as a charter.”<br />

The rules allow for two classes of members –<br />

user members who are the workers, and non-user<br />

members who are investors and supporters. Any<br />

changes to the charter will need the approval of both<br />

worker members and investors. Those members<br />

wishing to be more actively involved will be able to<br />

join the Common Council, which will act as a forum<br />

to engage the new stakeholders.<br />

On 1 March, the New Internationalist launched<br />

a share offer to raise £500,000. “At the end of this<br />

share offer we should have thousands of investors<br />

but we don’t yet know what proportion will want to<br />

be actively involved,” adds Ms Healy.<br />

The share offer will support investment in<br />

designing, launching and marketing a new-look<br />

publication as well as increasing multimedia<br />

content and developing the company’s ethical shop<br />

social enterprise.<br />

“The magazine is still our flagship but it needs<br />

investment, rethinking and relaunching to appeal<br />

to as wide as audience as possible,” said Ms Healy.<br />

The organisation also plans to invest in digital<br />

journalism, build the capacity to produce videos,<br />

increase our reach, invest in its ethical shop and its<br />

publishing arm, and return to profit.<br />

“The challenges are bigger than ever with<br />

Trump in White House and nationalists spreading<br />

and misinformation. Meanwhile a broken media<br />

model makes it harder than ever for independent<br />

publications like us to survive,” says Ms Healy.<br />

“Our journalism is needed more than ever but it<br />

is harder than ever for independent journalism to<br />

stay afloat in this climate. Our journalism and fresh<br />

perspectives can bring people together. There has<br />

never been a better time for it.”<br />



p New Internationalist’s<br />

500th edition. For more<br />

information about<br />

the share offer, which<br />

finishes on 6 <strong>April</strong>, visit<br />

factsandheart.org<br />

APRIL <strong>2017</strong> | 21

MEET...<br />

... Gemma Lacey, co-operative<br />

sustainability expert<br />

Gemma Lacey is director of sustainability and communications at Southern<br />

Co-op. She talked to us about her priorities and the proudest moments of her<br />

four years in the role.<br />


No two days are the same – one minute I can<br />

be discussing the future strategic direction<br />

of our business with other leadership team<br />

members or exploring aspects of our new local<br />

community engagement programme, ‘Love Your<br />

Neighbourhood’, with my team – or looking at<br />

our latest marketing campaigns. The next day I<br />

could be out and about visiting the local Wildlife<br />

Trust, developing our sustainable management<br />

plans for our crematoria or natural burial ground.<br />

The sustainability aspect of my role covers three<br />

pillars around the environmental side of things and<br />

protecting the environment; everything we are doing<br />

as a business to enhance our operations through<br />

energy saving and reducing waste. Our aim is to limit<br />

the impact on our environment while supporting<br />

local people. The Love Your Neighbourhood<br />

programme, for example, specifically aims to meet<br />

the needs of and invest in the local community.<br />



My coming in with a particular focus on sustainability<br />

has made sure it is part and parcel of everything we<br />

do as a business – pushing that down right through<br />

the organisation and business planning. It has also<br />

been about making a significant shift in the way we<br />

do things, who we are as Southern Co-op and what<br />

we stand for to build a stronger narrative around<br />

the business. In the four years I have been here my<br />

role has expanded and I now have much broader<br />

responsibilities as part of the leadership team, also<br />

looking after marketing and digital activity.<br />

“”<br />






Having a great team is important to me as they are<br />

the ones that give me real energy and purpose. I<br />

also like that fact there is such variety in my role<br />

given the different areas I have responsibility for<br />

(marketing, comms, digital and sustainability and<br />

community). The breadth of what I do also means I<br />

get to work with a broad range of people both inside<br />

and outside our society.<br />


There always seems so much to do and never quite<br />

enough hours in the day! That’s great because I<br />

can really see the potential for our organisation,<br />

but it’s always a challenge to balance the day-today<br />

demands, particularly when your main area<br />

of business is so competitive and undergoing so<br />

much change. But it is important to take that time<br />

out to do the future thinking, so we make sure<br />

our business plans maximise those longer-term<br />

strategic opportunities.<br />



I had some inkling of how things would be having<br />

worked previously for the John Lewis Partnership;<br />

although it’s an employee-owned business, there<br />

are clear synergies. What I don’t think I quite<br />

appreciated was how many independent co-ops<br />

there are and the diversity this brings. I don’t think a<br />

lot of people generally understand these differences,<br />

and that there isn’t just one national co-op.<br />


Being regional is really important to us, as is the<br />

fact that we are owned by local people for local<br />

people. This brings a certain level of knowledge<br />

and understanding of our region especially in areas<br />

22 | APRIL <strong>2017</strong>

where we have been trading for over 140 years. Our<br />

size is also key; we are a large company now – we<br />

have grown significantly over the last five years and<br />

opened 209th food store in 2016 – but we are still<br />

small enough to care. Through colleagues, we can<br />

work at a local level to build genuine relationships<br />

with our community partners and through them<br />

the wider community. The same can be said of the<br />

relationships we build with our local producers<br />

and suppliers for Local Flavours, our local food<br />

and drink range. Our dedicated local sourcing team<br />

works with them in a way that a larger business just<br />

couldn’t do.<br />

join our journey<br />

be a member<br />


Given the level of uncertainty in our world today<br />

that’s quite a tough question, but we have worked<br />

hard over the years to build our business resilience<br />

so we have better systems and ways of working;<br />

we’ve expanded into new markets and we’ve built<br />

a steady pipeline of new store and funeral home<br />

opportunities. We’ve also really thought about<br />

our purpose as a co-op, who we are and what we<br />

stand for as a business. 2023 will also be the 150th<br />

anniversary for our co-op so that’s a celebration<br />

opportunity we definitely won’t be missing out on!<br />



I was talking to someone at a local food and drink<br />

event and we were discussing how important food is<br />

to the elderly, particularly those in care. In the same<br />

way school meals have been turned on their head,<br />

there is perhaps an opportunity to do something<br />

similar to fundamentally improve the quality of<br />

food for those in care. Food plays such an important<br />

part in our lives at every stage and is so important<br />

for our health and well being as well as socially. This<br />

feels like something that would be a good fit with<br />

the co-op model and way of working.<br />


Where we have got to with our community<br />

programme. We launched it last August following<br />

a short pilot scheme. It’s about making it simpler<br />

and easier for everyone to get engaged and slowly<br />

building momentum. For us the real focus is to<br />

build on that level of engagement and make sure<br />

it is really embedded into the business. We have<br />

taken that to a different level and are really making<br />

sure our support is visible to local communities and<br />

businesses. That’s fundamental to our business<br />

and brand as the Southern Co-op and we integrate<br />

community thinking into everything we do.<br />

news<br />

We’ve relaunched our membership,<br />

offering member-owners more opportunity to<br />

help us plot the future of our independent coverage<br />

of the co-operative movement.<br />

Find out more at:<br />

thenews.coop/join<br />

APRIL <strong>2017</strong> | 23

Can buying groups help consumer co-ops<br />

address market challenges?<br />


ANCA VOINEA reports<br />

from the Co-operative<br />

Retail Conference<br />

With competition from discounters, online retailers<br />

and potential trade tariffs post Brexit, co-op<br />

retailers are exploring how working together could<br />

enhance selling margins and enable affordable<br />

prices. In a separate session at the Co-operative<br />

Retail Conference, organised by Co-operatives UK,<br />

delegates looked at opportunities for collective<br />

buying within the UK and abroad.<br />

In 2015 UK consumer co-operatives formed<br />

Federal Retail Trading Services Ltd (FRTSL), as<br />

a successor to the Co-operative Retail Trading<br />

Group, which formed in 1992. The buying group is<br />

collectively owned by independent societies and<br />

the Co-operative Group.<br />

Adrian Digby, director of strategy and change at<br />

FRTSL, revealed the buying group was looking to<br />

make annual savings of £100m this year through<br />

range optimisation, promotional effectiveness and<br />

improved buying – and that the programme of<br />

savings would continue over the next three years.<br />


In 2016 FRTSL agreed terms of reference for a<br />

project to explore potential co-operation with other<br />

European co-operative buying groups. “We decided<br />

to explore with caution, focusing the exploration<br />

on areas where we, collectively as FRTSL, had<br />

opportunities to improve and learn,” said Colin<br />

Macleod, chief executive of the Channel Islands<br />

Co-operative and director of FRTSL.<br />

As part of the project, members of the FRTSL<br />

team visited Denmark and Italy last summer to<br />

explore key opportunities in the areas of non-food<br />

products in food stores, investment goods, entry<br />

price points and own brands.<br />

With 1,100 stores and a 37% market share, Coop<br />

Denmark is a leader in food and non-food. The coop<br />

invested in a non-food category to support the<br />

message of its food range. Mr Macleod thinks that<br />

UK co-op retailers could adopt a similar approach<br />

to fill unprofitable space in larger stores.<br />

Coop Denmark forms part of Coop Trading, a<br />

buying group which it co-owns with Coop Norway,<br />

Coop Sweden and SOK Group in Finland. Coop<br />

Trading negotiates purchase agreements with<br />

suppliers on behalf of its partners & customers.<br />

FRTSL is exploring the potential to buy a partner<br />

share in Coop Trading or to become a customer<br />

with a fee structure based on volumes purchased.<br />

Coop Italian Food is a new company established<br />

by Coop Italia to offer knowledge to the export<br />

market. It aims to be the most qualified and<br />

reliable link between Italian food producers and<br />

24 | APRIL <strong>2017</strong>



u Local outlets that are part of larger retail societies<br />

or independent village shops all face similar<br />

challenges. Chris Matthews, manager of East of<br />

England Co-operative’s supermarket in Hamblin<br />

Walk, Woodbridge, explained how a key aspect of<br />

the co-op’s approach is to focus on local produce.<br />

East of England members spend significantly more<br />

than non-members, he said, and are also more<br />

likely to receive communication from the co-op and<br />

learn about special offers and discounts.<br />

u At the Midcounties Co-operative’s shop<br />

in Chipping Norton, colleagues are given the<br />

opportunity to share ideas via the society’s<br />

colleague council and through a colleague<br />

development review process. The society launched<br />

a Customer First programme last year, which uses<br />

international buyers, and to support the export<br />

of Italian food. As a result of the visit, FRTSL is<br />

considering including Coop Italian Food in its<br />

tendering process as it reviews existing contracts.<br />


Another key player in facilitating better<br />

relationships among European consumer cooperatives<br />

is Euro Coop, a sectoral body of the<br />

International Co-operative Alliance representing<br />

over 5,000 member co-ops from 19 countries.<br />

Euro Coop is looking at establishing a European<br />

consumer co-operative Erasmus Programme to<br />

enable staff members to work in different co-ops<br />

in Europe. As well as engaging with EU bodies,<br />

the apex body is also preparing a tool to share<br />

information on consumer co-ops in Europe, which<br />

members will be able to receive for free.<br />

Massimo Bongiovanni, president of Euro Coop<br />

and vice president of the National Association<br />

of Consumer Co-operatives (ANCC), which has<br />

merged with Coop Italia, also contributed to the<br />

session. “Innovation is vital for future of co-ops.<br />

The ability to explore new options, doesn’t always<br />

guarantee success but it’s the only way to put in<br />

practice,” he said.<br />

the results of two customer surveys to simplify<br />

operational routines for staff and deliver improved<br />

customer experience.<br />

u Alison Macklin told the story of her village store,<br />

the Brockweir and Hewelsfield Community Shop<br />

in Gloucestershire, registered as an industrial and<br />

provident society. More than 30% of products sold<br />

come from the local community. Customers can<br />

also benefit from reverse credit and receive a bill<br />

for their shopping at the end of the month. The<br />

environmentally friendly shop, which includes a<br />

café and a post office, is entirely staffed by over 40<br />

volunteers – the oldest is 89. “We do all sorts of<br />

little things for the community. Our main aim is to<br />

put back any surplus into the community,” said Ms<br />

Macklin. But, she told delegates: “More and more<br />

retailers are using local food. The important things<br />

remain colleagues and customers. Our challenges<br />

are very similar to yours.”<br />



u Rufus Olins, chief membership officer at the<br />

Co-op Group presented some of the first results of<br />

the organisation’s new membership strategy and<br />

looked at potential opportunities for the future.<br />

Since launching its new membership proposition<br />

in September, the Group has seen 627,000 new<br />

members joining it. The retailer has an active<br />

membership of 4.26 million members, who account<br />

for 30% of its sales. Since the launch, members<br />

have received £27.39m in rewards.<br />

u Mr Olins said: “Membership gives distinct<br />

values and value-led offers in the market place. It<br />

is a movement for change not just a loyalty card.<br />

Our authenticity creates a brand loyalty. We have<br />

a proposition that people trust. Our scores in trust<br />

continue to rise.” u<br />

Co-operative<br />

Retail<br />

Conference<br />


Co-operatives UK<br />

WHEN: 3-5 March<br />

WHERE: Stratford<br />

Manor<br />

SPEAKERS: James<br />

Walton (IGD), Michael<br />

Gidney (Fairtrade),<br />

Rufus Olins (Co-op<br />

group), Dame Pauline<br />

Green, Howard<br />

Brodsky (CCA Global<br />

Partners), Unai<br />

Elorza (Mondragon<br />

University), Adrian<br />

Digby (FRTSL), Colin<br />

McLeod (Channel<br />

Islands Co-op),<br />

Massimo Bongiovanni<br />

(Euro Coop), Chris<br />

Matthews (East of<br />

England Co-op, Adam<br />

Quinton (Midcounties<br />

Co-op), Alison<br />

Macklin (Brockweir<br />

and Hewelsfield<br />

Community Shop)<br />

OPPOSITE: Delegates<br />

at the <strong>2017</strong> Co-operative<br />

Retail Conference<br />

ABOVE: The Brockweir<br />

and Hewelsfield<br />

Community Shop in<br />

Gloucestershire<br />

LEFT: Rufus Olins, chief<br />

membership officer at<br />

the Co-op Group<br />

APRIL <strong>2017</strong> | 25

What will Brexit mean for co-op retailers<br />

in the UK?<br />

“”<br />


Co-operative retailers have several reasons to be<br />

concerned about Brexit, according to James Walton,<br />

chief economist at research charity IGD.<br />

Mr Walton, a keynote speaker at the Co-operative<br />

Retail Conference, believes that while Brexit is the<br />

most immediate challenge for co-op societies, it is<br />

concealing other challenges that will have to be<br />

faced regardless of the outcome of the negotiations.<br />

One important factor in determining the future<br />

of co-op retailers is market access. “The whole<br />

supply chain is a product of our involvement in the<br />

EU,” he said, adding that it was not certain that<br />

Brexit negotiations would be made in two years.<br />

Mr Walton thinks that all possible post-Brexit trade<br />

deals would be less favourable than the current free<br />

trade deal.<br />

Other Brexit-related factors affecting the retail<br />

sector would be the depreciation of the pound,<br />

potential constitutional changes in Scotland and<br />

Northern Ireland, the end of Common Agricultural<br />

Policy (CAP) direct payments for British farmers<br />

and the increasing public dissatisfaction driving<br />

political change.<br />





Mr Walton explained how most businesses had been<br />

created with the idea in mind that globalisation<br />

would last. In an interdependent sector such as<br />

grocery, the end of globalisation could pose a great<br />

challenge. The UK imports one third of its food.<br />

In terms of retail trends, he identified a main<br />

tendency for the UK sector – consumers drifting<br />

away from supermarkets, favouring discounters,<br />

convenience stores and online shopping.<br />


With food and drink inflation returning the role of<br />

buying groups such as Federal Retail and Trading<br />

Services Limited (FRTSL) will be crucial in driving<br />

organisations to hold prices back, said Mr Walton.<br />

Co-op retailers can respond to these challenges<br />

by focusing on the tangible aspect of products and<br />

developing shopper interest and affection.<br />

According to Mr Walton, IGD research shows<br />

that convenience stores score highly in terms<br />

of emotional engagement but online shopping<br />

outperforms them.<br />

“Shoppers are not loyal to convenience store<br />

concept, as long as something else comes along,”<br />

he warned, adding that co-op retailers should<br />

support the younger generation, which has been<br />

the most affected by the financial crisis.<br />

u Related: Howard Brodsky on the power of<br />

providing the unexpected (page 44)<br />

26 | APRIL <strong>2017</strong>

The end of oil – a co-operative<br />

opportunity?<br />

Now in its 10th year, this year’s Future Co-ops<br />

conference – ‘Post Carbon Co-ops’ – addressed<br />

life after oil. The event was organised by Cooperative<br />

Futures, a business development<br />

consultancy specialising in co-operative, mutual<br />

and community led businesses.<br />

Participants from various sectors of the cooperative<br />

movement met in Cheltenham to look at<br />

how co-operation and collaboration could help in<br />

the non-fossil fuel economy, which, delegates were<br />

told, inevitably has to follow our dependence on<br />

crude oil.<br />


Keynote speaker Rob Hopkins, from the Transition<br />

Network, emphasised the need for more imagination<br />

in local decision making. He said the current ‘clone<br />

towns’ are a result of economic planners who seem<br />

to “have had an imagination bypass”. Transition<br />

towns, on the other hand, start from the point of<br />

looking at the history and successes of the town’s<br />

local economy and work from there to develop<br />

more resilient economies, many without the need<br />

for oil dependent energy.<br />

Another keynote speaker, Mark Simmonds from<br />

Culture Co-op, set the scene for a post-carbon<br />

world by explaining how humans’ attitude to their<br />

current dependence on oil and fossil fuels was akin<br />

to winning the lottery. “We need to see how lucky<br />

we are as humans,” he said. “Millions of years of<br />

sunlight are stored up in fossil fuels and it was like<br />

winning the lottery when we worked out to harness<br />

the power.”<br />

But, he warned, as the chances of winning again<br />

are so remote, the challenge is to build resilient<br />

systems that can provide a way of life that has the<br />

smallest take from the environment as possible.<br />

Co-operatives in their various forms are in pole<br />

position to provide the answers to post carbon<br />

questions, but that can only happen if decision<br />

making faces this new reality.<br />

Post Carbon Co-ops addressed a number of key areas which are currently very<br />

carbon (crude oil) dependent and where change is bound to happen once oil<br />

becomes even more difficult and uneconomic to extract.<br />

u ENERGY: Mark Billsborough of Co-operative Energy forecast a situation<br />

where customers of Co-operative Energy were able to choose where their<br />

energy comes from and highlighted some innovative ways in using customers<br />

as a resource to smooth out peaks and troughs in energy demand.<br />

u FOOD: Helen Woodcock from the Kindling Trust explained how for every<br />

10 calories of food on the average plate, 7 calories of oil input are needed.<br />

“In a post carbon economy, food will have to become more local and less<br />

intensively produced,” she said.<br />

u TRANSPORT: Currently, transport is almost wholly fossil fuel dependent,<br />

said Dhara Thompson of the Sail Boat Project. The project has a mission to<br />

bring communities together through sail cargo and is working with partners<br />

to reintroduce commercial cargo services powered by the wind. Post carbon<br />

travel and transport might be slower but has a much lower carbon footprint.<br />

u ENERGY: Private businesses are failing in the energy market, according to<br />

Jonathan Atkinson of Carbon Co-op. In a post-carbon scenario, the focus is<br />

certainly going to be on carbon free-energy generation, whether that’s wind,<br />

tidal or solar, but equally important is a real focus on using much less energy.<br />

Long range transportation of electricity suffers from significant losses, he said,<br />

so co-ops, municipalities and communities will need to move towards a more<br />

flexible, distributed renewable energy grid to meet their needs in the future.<br />

u HOUSING: The National Community Land Trust Network‘s Stephen Hill<br />

explained how various forms of co-op and co-housing offer more ecologically,<br />

economically and socially sound housing solutions.<br />

Future Co-ops Conference<br />

p Rob Hopkins<br />

ORGANISERS: Co-operative Futures<br />

WHEN: 3-4 February<br />

WHERE: Cheltenham<br />

SPEAKERS: Rob Hopkins (Transition Network), Mark Simmonds (Culture Co-op),<br />

Mark Billsborough (Co-operative Energy), Helen Woodcock (Kindling Trust), Dhara<br />

Thompson (Sail Boat Project), Jonathan Atkinson (Carbon Co-op), Stephen Hill<br />

(National Community Land Trust Network)<br />

APRIL <strong>2017</strong> | 27


ANCA VOINEA reports<br />

from the Association<br />

of British Credit Unions<br />

(Abcul) Conference<br />

Credit unions and online lending<br />

innovation<br />

Online lending – a market worth £23bn in 2016 – is a key challenge for credit<br />

unions in the UK, delegates at the <strong>2017</strong> conference of the Association of British<br />

Credit Unions heard.<br />

As well as having to provide a seamless user experience, they must<br />

compete against payday lenders, who set the benchmark on frictionless loan<br />

applications.<br />

But credit unions can be limited by their common bond – based on living<br />

or working links, or on membership of an association. This means that only<br />

people meeting the common bond criteria can become members and gain<br />

access to their financial services. In an online, universal, world this common<br />

bond can act as a barrier when it comes to attracting new members.<br />

To address this, two online lending models have been developed to serve<br />

credit unions.<br />


Fiach Maguire from Culoans.co.uk talked about the online lending platform,<br />

which is open to all credit unions and covers 75% of the country. Participating<br />

credit unions are charged for completed loan applications, the charge reflecting<br />

the economic value of the loan. Funding credit union members do not have to<br />

pay a joining fee but future credit unions may have to.<br />

Through Moneysupermarket, the CULoans site can instantly process loan<br />

applications. Since launching, the platform has had 15,000 visits, with an<br />

application rate of 47%. Around 73% of these were completed on mobile<br />

devices. While the rejection rate is 96%, the total volume of new loans reached<br />

£850,000, with an average loan of £5,600 for 45 months. CULoans is currently<br />

negotiating with other price comparison websites.<br />


Keith Rivers from Affordable Loans provided another example of a collaborative<br />

model that can help credit unions reach a national, online audience.<br />

Designed by credit unions, Affordable Loans includes credit unions, CDFIs<br />

and charities, aiming to create full user service and coverage. To join, they<br />

must pay a £7,000 fee for the cost of technical changes to the portal, as well<br />

as legal, marketing and insurance expenses. In addition, credit unions pay a<br />

£5,000 annual running cost.<br />

The group teamed up with Asda to build their own version of a comparison<br />

website. Asda is hosting the portal, enabling customers to go directly to the<br />

Affordable Loans website to get a quote via Asda Money.<br />

“Affordable loans went to Asda because customers tended to shop there –<br />

Asda was a trusted brand,” said Mr Rivers.<br />

The website has over 1,000 views per week growing at 10% per week. One<br />

in four customers accessing the Asda Money website make contact with their<br />

recommended community lender.<br />

Both platforms are continually being improved to respond to users’ needs, a<br />

particular emphasis being placed on being mobile-friendly.<br />

“If it’s not mobile, it’s not online. If it’s not simple and instant, it won’t<br />

deliver,” added Mr Maguire.<br />

28 | APRIL <strong>2017</strong>

Abcul<br />

Conference<br />


Association of British<br />

Credit Unions (Abcul)<br />

WHEN: 10-11 March<br />

WHERE: Manchester<br />



According to recent research by BNY Mellon<br />

in collaboration with the University of Oxford,<br />

millennials want to interact with financial providers<br />

through a range of channels, with websites and<br />

emails being the most popular choice (40%)<br />

followed by face-to-face contact (23%) and<br />

telephone (18%).<br />

Millennials – born in the 1980s and 1990s – were<br />

among the worst hit by the 2008 financial crisis.<br />

A 2016 survey by YouGov revealed that a third of<br />

young people aged 18-24 had debts of almost<br />

£3,000 and experienced “significant concerns”<br />

about money. Ms Bain’s book, Spare Change, looks<br />

at how people could save more, regardless of their<br />

background or income.<br />


Personal finance journalist Iona Bain (founder of<br />

the Young Money Blog, dedicated to young people’s<br />

finances), told the conference that while “credit<br />

unions could act as an alternative to financial<br />

advisers ... What’s missing is information about<br />

what is a bank and what is a credit union.”<br />

Ms Bain added that credit unions “need to get<br />

out there more and explicitly market these products<br />

to young people and say ‘this is your safety net’.<br />

They have to embrace technology but not just do<br />

it as a box ticking exercise.” She also said credit<br />

unions should engage with young people by<br />

starting campaigns focused on one key issue rather<br />

than on the products they are offering.<br />


Another speaker at the conference, Emanuel<br />

Andjelic, looked at how credit unions could stay<br />

relevant in today’s fintech landscape.<br />

Mr Andjelic is co-funder of Squirrel, a fintech<br />

which has designed an app to help people<br />

create and stick to a budget. Squirrel works with<br />

businesses that want to offer the service as a<br />

benefit to employees, as well as local authorities<br />

and housing associations that may have issues<br />

with rent collection.<br />

“We save and collect money at the source,” said<br />

Mr Andjelic, who does not perceive tech companies<br />

as competition for credit unions. “Tech companies<br />

want to build cool technology that works. As credit<br />

unions you are good at saving and lending. We<br />

could work together.”<br />

He gave examples of micro-saving tools<br />

emerging in the financial market, such as Plum,<br />

the first artificial intelligence powered Facebook<br />

chatbot, which enables people to start saving small<br />

amounts of money. The tool connects people’s<br />

current account to its artificial intelligence to learn<br />

their spending habits, so it can automatically<br />

deposit small amounts of money into the Plum<br />

savings account every few days.<br />

Similarly, Digit, a mobile app, connects users’<br />

accounts to its platform to analyse their income<br />

and spending in order to find money it can set aside<br />

for them.<br />

SPEAKERS: Gwyneth<br />

Nurse (HM Treasury),<br />

Alison Carpenter<br />

(FCA), Roger Marsh<br />

(PRA), Ed Sarama<br />

(Fiserv), Bill Hampel<br />

(CUNA), Marshall<br />

Boutwell (Peach<br />

State CU), Iona Bain<br />

(finance journalist),<br />

Emanuel Andjelic<br />

(Squirrel), Matt Bland<br />

(Abcul), Fiach Maguire<br />

(culoans.co.uk), Keith<br />

Rivers (Affordable<br />

Lending)<br />

ABOVE: Iona Bain<br />

OPPOSITE: Emanuel<br />

Andjelic (top) and Bill<br />

Hampel<br />


u Bill Hampel chief policy officer at the Credit Union National Association<br />

(CUNA) in the USA, explained how USA credit unions have continued to grow in<br />

spite of a two main challenges. His top three tips for credit unions were: make<br />

money; stay solvent; and grow.<br />

u CUNA set up a Small Credit Union Committee to discuss issues of concern<br />

for smaller credit unions. Following consultation, their recommendations were:<br />

Differentiate; Strive to be consultative; Price for your market; Lend; and Use<br />

available resources<br />

APRIL <strong>2017</strong> | 29

ENERGY<br />


President, REScoop<br />

A version of this piece<br />

has previously been<br />

published on Euronews<br />

In its recently released Clean Energy Package, the<br />

European Commission finally acknowledged that<br />

energy communities – such as co-operatives – have<br />

a major role to play in Europe’s energy transition.<br />

On 30 November, 2016, the Commission<br />

published a series of proposals to reform the energy<br />

market. Referred to as EU’s “winter package” the<br />

new rules outline plans to put efficiency first and<br />

maintain the EU as a global leader in renewables.<br />

Significantly, this includes placing consumers at<br />

the centre of Europe’s energy market.<br />

We can question whether, as a whole, the package<br />

is capable of achieving all of these goals. In fact, it<br />

is far from perfect. But one thing is undeniable: it<br />

establishes building blocks for a dedicated legal<br />

framework so that renewable energy co-operatives<br />

can participate in the energy system without being<br />

encumbered by rules that were made for old,<br />

centralised and dirty fossil fuels. This could be a<br />

potential game changer for renewable energy cooperatives<br />

(REScoops) across the EU that want to<br />

co-operate with each other in order to change the<br />

energy system.<br />

And it could not come fast enough. Communities<br />

in countries like Denmark, the Netherlands,<br />

Belgium and Germany have been pioneering the<br />

clean energy transition since the 1970s. Over the<br />

past decade or so, more and more citizens have<br />

been coming together to produce and supply<br />

themselves with clean renewable energy, and the<br />

trend is likely to continue.<br />

According to a study by CE Delft, by 2050,<br />

about 187 million EU households – around 83% –<br />

could contribute to renewable energy production,<br />

demand response and/or energy storage.<br />

People join up, not just because of competitive<br />

Europe, renewables and the future of<br />

community<br />

energy<br />

30 | APRIL <strong>2017</strong>

energy prices and investment returns, but also their<br />

desire to fight climate change, develop co-operation<br />

with their neighbours, and support the added value<br />

of community projects towards the local economy.<br />

There is also a clear correlation between<br />

participating in a renewable energy co-operative<br />

and self-empowerment: over 40% of the members<br />

of Belgian renewable energy supplier Ecopower<br />

have also installed solar panels on their roofs.<br />

It’s not just about renewables. Some REScoops<br />

own and operate their own local grids and they<br />

provide services to their members to help them use<br />

less energy.<br />

It’s not stopping there either – the movement<br />

has its sights set on providing storage and demand<br />

response, and in setting up micro-grids. It is<br />

through these activities that REScoops will lead<br />

the transition towards a clean decarbonised and<br />

decentralised energy system.<br />

At the moment, however, European energy<br />

legislation does not even mention community<br />

participation in energy production. This means<br />

REScoops must play by the same rules as large,<br />

centralised players, essentially placing REScoops<br />

at a competitive disadvantage.<br />

With the Commission’s proposed Clean Energy<br />

Package, that would change. This is encouraging<br />

news, because the old energy system can no longer<br />

support the growth of REScoops. In many ways it<br />

is even attacking community participation, as if it<br />

were a virus.<br />

Faced with unwanted growing competition,<br />

‘dinosaur’ energy companies have lobbied their<br />

governments, many times with success, for new<br />

laws that make it more difficult for citizens and<br />

their energy communities to compete.<br />

And that’s not all. While in western European<br />

countries the number of community energy projects<br />

has steadily increased over time, in most eastern<br />

European countries it is still virtually impossible<br />

for citizens to do the same. This is not for pure lack<br />

of desire by citizens there to set up projects – policy<br />

frameworks play a big role in allowing or even<br />

helping them.<br />

The Commission’s proposals address some<br />

of these issues. Perhaps most importantly, they<br />

guarantee that REScoops are entitled to participate<br />

in the energy market, not just through generation<br />

and supply of renewables, but throughout the<br />

entire energy system.<br />

They will ensure member states have legal<br />

frameworks in place to support REScoops, simplify<br />

over burdensome regulations, and ensure they are<br />

not discriminated against. In particular, they will<br />

help ensure that REScoops are not excluded from<br />

tenders simply because they have less financial<br />

and human resources than larger players with big<br />

portfolios of projects.<br />

There is still a need to go further. National<br />

regulators need to be encouraged to better<br />

understand the REScoop model, but there is no<br />

strong push at the moment to change this.<br />

Renewable energy co-operatives also need to<br />

be ensured a seat at the table as further European<br />

energy regulations and guidelines are developed,<br />

particularly through a potential new DSO body.<br />

REScoops need guarantees that they will be able<br />

to input into national plans that member states<br />

develop in order to contribute to the achievement<br />

of the EU’s 2030 climate and energy goals.<br />

Overall, the Commission has demonstrated that<br />

it understands the success of the energy transition<br />

hinges on ensuring local citizens can exercise their<br />

right to choose. This extends to citizens generating<br />

and supplying themselves – both individually and<br />

collectively – with renewable energy.<br />

The outcome on the details is far from certain. It is<br />

now time for national and EU politicians, decision<br />

makers and regulators to jump on board with the<br />

idea. One thing is certain though: REScoops should<br />

continue to trail blaze the energy sector to make it<br />

more democratic and beneficial for citizens.<br />

u Community<br />

Energy Fortnight<br />

<strong>2017</strong>, which<br />

showcases<br />

inspiring examples<br />

of communities<br />

who are sharing<br />

their resources to<br />

generate renewable<br />

energy and waste<br />

less, takes place<br />

from 24 June – 9 July<br />

What is the Energy Directive – and how does it affect co-ops?<br />

The 2012, the European Commission’s Energy Efficiency Directive<br />

established a set of binding measures to help the EU reach its<br />

20% energy efficiency target by 2020. The directive said that<br />

saving 20% of the EU’s primary energy consumption by 2020<br />

[compared to projections] would:<br />

u improve the EU’s security of supply<br />

u help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a cost-effective<br />

way and thereby help mitigate climate change<br />

u shift the EU to a more energy-efficient economy, and so<br />

accelerate technological solutions and improve competitiveness<br />

u boost economic growth and create high quality jobs in several<br />

sectors related to energy efficiency.<br />


On 30 November 2016 the European Commission proposed an<br />

update to the Energy Efficiency Directive, including a new 30%<br />

energy efficiency target for 2030 to keep the EU competitive as the<br />

clean energy transition is changing global energy markets: “The<br />

Commission wants the EU to lead the clean energy transition, not<br />

only adapt to it.”<br />

The proposals have three goals:<br />

u putting energy efficiency first<br />

u global leadership in renewable energies<br />

u providing a fair deal for consumers.<br />

APRIL <strong>2017</strong> | 31



Co-ops and sustainable tourism<br />

Every year, over one billion international tourists<br />

pack their bags to go on holiday, creating millions<br />

of jobs and investment for national and local<br />

economies. But decades of ever-expanding mass<br />

tourism are taking their toll on the environment.<br />

According to figures from the UN’s World Tourism<br />

Organisation, tourism is responsible for about<br />

5% of CO2 emissions – with increased storms<br />

and heatwaves, desertification, fresh water loss,<br />

rising sea levels that threaten coastal resorts, and<br />

diminished snowfall in alpine skiing areas. Almost<br />

25 years since the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro<br />

first floated the idea of sustainable tourism, it is<br />

clear to world leaders that a fundamental change is<br />

needed in the way we approach the whole concept<br />

of travel. This is one of the reasons why <strong>2017</strong> has<br />

been designated by the UN as the International Year<br />

of Sustainable Tourism.<br />

Bodies like UN’s World Tourism Organisation are<br />

doing their best to help change the lives of local<br />

communities, but as tourist demands grow, it is<br />

increasingly recognised that a more robust and<br />

environmentally friendly infrastructure is needed to<br />

support the needs of both the tourism industry and<br />

local communities without causing more damage to<br />

the planet.<br />


In 2010 the European Commission officially<br />

committed itself to promoting the development of<br />

sustainable, responsible and high-quality tourism.<br />

That commitment is now a global one.<br />

The World Tourism Organisation is working<br />

with governments, public and private partners,<br />

finance institutions, UN agencies, NGOs and<br />

other international organisations to build a more<br />

sustainable tourism strategy – combining policies<br />

for inclusive and sustainable economic growth,<br />

employment and decent jobs with real concern for<br />

fragile ecosystems increasingly at risk.<br />

During the 70th Session of the UN General<br />

Assembly in 2015, 154 heads of state agreed the<br />

2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, along<br />

with 17 Sustainable Development Goals – an<br />

ambitious far-reaching framework designed to ease<br />

poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity<br />

for all – particularly those in low-income tourist<br />

destinations.<br />

From its first tentative steps in the 1990s,<br />

the concept of sustainable tourism has been<br />

wholeheartedly supported by the co-operative<br />

movement. CECOP–CICOPA Europe, the European<br />

32 | APRIL <strong>2017</strong>

anch of CICOPA (the international confederation<br />

of industrial and service co-operatives), is one of the<br />

most vocal champions of sustainability.<br />

In December 2013, more than 1,000 worker and<br />

social co-operatives from the CECOP–CICOPA<br />

Europe network involved in activities linked to<br />

tourism celebrated European Tourism Day. Their<br />

vision for a more sustainable and responsible<br />

tourism was founded on the co-operative business<br />

model, offering a more sustainable and responsible<br />

tourism combining economic competitiveness with<br />

solutions to social and environmental needs.<br />


One of their most innovative ideas was Cooproute<br />

– a travel itinerary mapping the rich field of cultural<br />

and industrial co-operative tourism in various<br />

European countries. Aimed particularly at young<br />

people, the route highlights important destinations<br />

illustrating the history of co-operative culture and<br />

values, from artisan co-ops producing traditional<br />

textiles to iconic locations such as the Rochdale<br />

Pioneers Museum on Toad Lane. Cooproute has the<br />

ultimate ambition to be recognised as a European<br />

Cultural Route by the Council of Europe.<br />

In October 2016, Bruno Roelants, secretary<br />

general of CECOP, took part in the World Social<br />

Tourism Congress organised by the International<br />

Social Tourism Organisation in Zagreb.<br />

“Given its potential, tourism should develop its<br />

capacity to generate benefits for the whole society<br />

in fields such as employment, wealth generation,<br />

culture, sustainability and environment,” said Mr<br />

Roelants, who is also secretary general of CICOPA.<br />

“Thanks to their enterprise model, Cooproute<br />

destinations are already offering a sustainable and<br />

innovative tourism experience in Europe.”<br />

The co-operative business model is also<br />

particularly suited to challenges and changes which<br />

respect and reinforce the local community in tourist<br />

areas as well as the stronger involvement of all<br />

citizens in tourist initiatives, building environmental<br />

sustainability and accessibility for everyone.<br />

Across the world, the co-operative tourism market<br />

is offering a growing variety of more responsible and<br />

sustainable experiences for tourists. These range<br />

from real adventure in little-known destinations to<br />

volunteering in local communities and helping them<br />

build on their local heritage be it farming, industry<br />

or artisan crafts unique to local communities.<br />


Midcounties, the largest independent co-operative<br />

in the UK with gross sales of over £1.4bn, still<br />

operates a travel business under the Co-operative<br />

Travel brand. Despite challenging times for the<br />

industry, it is the third largest travel agent in the<br />

UK, with 56 shops, 150 home-based personal travel<br />

agents and 40 independent agents who are part of a<br />

consortium set up several years ago.<br />

Group manager for travel services, Alisdair<br />

Rowland, says: “Midcounties did not join the joint<br />

venture between Thomas Cook and the Co-operative<br />

Group five years ago. What we have been doing is<br />

building and increasing our share of the market<br />

from a £70m to a £350m turnover.”<br />

Mr Rowland explains how the travel business<br />

is a run in a “very ethical way” – in part through<br />

operating to a set of goals they have set around<br />

social responsibility.<br />

“We do a lot of work with the Travel Foundation<br />

charity, which in the last 10 years has raised over<br />

£10m for sustainable tourism. We support it in a<br />

number of ways. For instance, through support of<br />

many of the projects they carry out across the world,<br />

through advice on business growth, for example.”<br />

Mr Rowland, who is a director and trustee of<br />

the foundation, as well as chair of the finance<br />

committee, says that it is also about doing practical<br />

things that are real to local communities. “It’s quite<br />

a complex area. For example, lots of the sustainable<br />

tourism work that is carried out in a typical resort<br />

is quite political – such as how a hotel deals with<br />

its waste, which may involve local government,<br />

or NGOs who try to do the best for travellers while<br />

growing sustainable tourism in a resort.” u<br />

OPPOSITE: The Travel<br />

Foundation supports<br />

projects around the world,<br />

including Montego Bay,<br />

Jamaica<br />

BELOW: Alisdair Rowland,<br />

Group manager for travel<br />

services at Midcounties<br />

Co-op. Midcounties’<br />

Co-operative Travel<br />

works with G-Adventures,<br />

a social enterprise<br />

which specialises in<br />

sustainable travel (Images:<br />

G-Adventures)<br />

APRIL <strong>2017</strong> | 33

BELOW: Members of<br />

the Much Kaab Mayan<br />

women’s co-operative,<br />

which has launched a<br />

range of honey-based<br />

products through support<br />

from the Travel Foundation<br />

One of the Travel Foundation’s most successful<br />

initiatives is Much Kaab in Mexico, a co-operative of<br />

Mayan women, who produce honey-based products<br />

while looking after the endangered Melipona bee.<br />

The co-op has launched a new range of natural<br />

toiletries and after-sun products for sale in exclusive<br />

hotel rooms, souvenir shops and other outlets, with<br />

a three-year business plan for growth.<br />

“It started with a small group of local beekeepers<br />

in a rural village, says Mr Rowland. “The Travel<br />

Foundation helped them form a co-operative and<br />

provided business and marketing training. The<br />

women have developed a brand and successful<br />

beauty products, which have taken them into 11<br />

resort hotels. This is a great project which started<br />

small but has now enabled new phone lines and<br />

internet to be installed in the village, meaning they<br />

can start developing the product even further.”<br />

Another Travel Foundation project in Turkey aims<br />

to help local farmers supply fruit and vegetables to<br />

all-inclusive hotels.<br />

In Montego Bay, the first group of Jamaican<br />

craft traders has completed a training programme<br />

helping locals increase their income and improve<br />

the visitor experience by changing the way they<br />

sell their goods. There is also invaluable work<br />

going on to preserve the threatened marine bays<br />

around Fethiye in Turkey – with an educational<br />

map for tourists around best practice – reducing<br />

the environmental impacts of boat trips and coastal<br />

tourism on important habitats for turtles and other<br />

marine life.<br />


The team at Midcounties is keen to monitor its<br />

contribution to increasing sustainability while<br />

offering customers different kinds of holidays.<br />

“We compare the environmental impacts of<br />

different types of holiday, from adventure tourism<br />

to beach holidays, all-inclusive to self-catering,”<br />

says Mr Rowland. “We also measure our financial<br />

performance on a steering wheel looking at all our<br />

ethical areas.”<br />

Midcounties also offers the opportunity to travel<br />

on trips with G-Adventures, a social enterprise<br />

which has specialised in sustainable travel for over<br />

20 years and financed a raft of projects including<br />

community-operated restaurants in Cambodia<br />

and a business school run by a women’s co-op<br />

in Tanzania. Opportunities include stays with<br />

local families, desert trips and the chance to help<br />

build schools and other much-needed facilities in<br />

developing countries.<br />

Midcounties also aims to raise awareness of<br />

sustainable travel – recently publishing a leaflet in<br />

a scrapbook format for young travellers focusing on<br />

the need to conserve energy and how to do it in farflung<br />

holiday resorts.<br />

“We are a retailer with a conscience and want to<br />

spread the message,” says Mr Rowland.<br />

“In our energy business we have a green tariff<br />

which benefits recyclable energy and one of the<br />

things that we do with that is make a contribution to<br />

the Travel Foundation.<br />

“We are also promoting a member offer where we<br />

will get a number of members together to take them<br />

on a G-Adventure holiday.”<br />

He believes that co-ops are in a good place<br />

to champion the idea of sustainable travel.<br />

“Sustainable tour operators are out there but<br />

sometimes they are not easy to spot. Our place<br />

here at Midcounties is to aggregate all that on our<br />

website and have a proper presence for sustainable<br />

tourism as one of our points of real difference. It is<br />

about getting the message in front of the consumer<br />

and maximising the offer so we are the agent of<br />

choice when it comes to ethical travel.”<br />

34 | APRIL <strong>2017</strong>

Co-ops working in sustainable tourism<br />


Lupine Adventure Co-op offers walkers,<br />

youth workers, schools and community<br />

groups the chance to learn expertise and<br />

safe techniques with qualified mountain<br />

guides. There are affordable courses<br />

in everything from rock-climbing, basic<br />

hill walking and map reading to tuition<br />

for Duke of Edinburgh award schemes<br />

at all levels. It was started some years<br />

ago by individuals with a background in<br />

environmental and social justice projects.<br />

A member of Co-operatives UK, Lupine<br />

is keen to promote the use of public<br />

transport and lift sharing in all its outward<br />

bound courses. If possible, all Duke of<br />

Edinburgh Award expeditions start and<br />

finish at railway stations. Interestingly, it<br />

no longer promotes the Three Peaks event<br />

in Yorkshire because of the adverse effect<br />

on the environment. Lupine gives its time<br />

free to organisations like the Woodcraft<br />

Folk. It has six full-time members based<br />

in North Wales, Yorkshire, Cumbria and<br />

Scotland as well as a team of freelance<br />

mountain guides. Members also take part<br />

in conservation projects such as treeplanting.<br />


One of the newest and most unusual<br />

initiatives in sustainable tourism is<br />

SENINTER, a joint project from several<br />

organisations (including co-ops) from<br />

Slovenia, Italy, Belgium and Spain. Under<br />

the first travel initiative, grandparents and<br />

grandchildren from Slovenia will travel<br />

to the coastal resort of Rimin, in Italy,<br />

where they will meet Italian grandparents<br />

and children who will show them the<br />

beauties of the coastal region and share<br />

very different experiences and cultures.<br />

The stated aim of the new project is intergenerational<br />

empowerment, building<br />

community bonds and links with other<br />

countries. Its mission is ‘not just a journey<br />

but also a legacy’ which young people will<br />

always remember. Grandparents will be<br />

travelling with their grandchildren during<br />

the low and medium season in Europe.<br />

Other partner organisations in Belgium<br />

and Spain are also set to take part in this<br />

innovative idea that is designed to build<br />

bridges across generations. It has been<br />

funded by the financed by the European<br />

Commission and if successful it will be<br />

rolled out across Europe.<br />


Barcelona-based Ecoinstitut was set up<br />

as a co-operative in 1999 and has played<br />

a leading role in several major projects<br />

designed to promote sustainable tourism.<br />

Since 2000, the Catalan government<br />

has worked with local government<br />

and tourism organisations, as well as<br />

hotels and local businesses, to improve<br />

the sector’s environmental impact<br />

through eco-certification and Ecoinstitut<br />

contributed to that. A major project<br />

was the implementation of the Catalan<br />

Ecolabel quality standard, preparing case<br />

studies and conducting the evaluation of<br />

youth hostels and rural accommodation<br />

facilities. Ecoinstitut also works with<br />

leading PR and advertising companies to<br />

raise awareness and develop information<br />

material for tourist facilities. In 2008,<br />

to help advance the implementation of<br />

Barcelona’s Agenda 21 eco-initiative, they<br />

were tasked with developing a guide to<br />

sustainable hotels with the collaboration<br />

of Barcelona Tourism and Barcelona Hotels<br />

Association. Other projects include guides<br />

to ethical surfing in the beaches around<br />

Barcelona.<br />

Co-funded<br />

by the COSME programme<br />

of the European Union<br />

APRIL <strong>2017</strong> | 35



The time is now for ethical advertising<br />



Former ethics adviser<br />

and campaigns manager<br />

for the Co-operative<br />

Group and adviser to<br />

the Stop Funding Hate<br />

campaign<br />

Co-operatives have an opportunity to be innovative<br />

leaders in corporate social responsibility (CSR).<br />

Over the past year, a spotlight has been shone on<br />

issues that should be of concern to co-operatives,<br />

providing the impetus to once again break new<br />

ground in corporate social responsibility (CSR).<br />

As recession and austerity gave rise to the CSR<br />

issues of fair tax and a living wage, today, fake news,<br />

post-truth politics and an increase in xenophobia<br />

and racism are setting the scene for another big<br />

emerging CSR issue: ethical advertising.<br />

True to its values, the co-operative movement<br />

has played a vital role in the Fair Tax campaign in<br />

recent years. It should now do the same thing for<br />

the Stop Funding Hate campaign, which is calling<br />

on advertisers to avoid the Daily Mail, Daily Express<br />

and the Sun; three publications specifically<br />

criticised by the United Nations.<br />

The need for action in the UK is great, with the UN<br />

High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad<br />

Al Hussein, stating: “Asylum seekers and migrants<br />

have, day after day, for years on end, been linked<br />

to rape, murder, diseases, theft, and almost every<br />

conceivable crime and misdemeanour imaginable …<br />

Many of these stories have been grossly distorted and<br />

some have been outright fabrications.”<br />

He goes on to warn: “History has shown us time<br />

and again the dangers of demonising foreigners<br />

“”<br />




and minorities … it is extraordinary and deeply<br />

shameful to see these types of tactics being used …<br />

simply because racism and xenophobia are so easy<br />

to arouse in order to sell newspapers.”<br />

Last year, the Daily Mail and Daily Express printed<br />

1,768 pages that included a story on immigration, the<br />

vast majority negative. That’s an average of three per<br />

issue for the Daily Mail, two for the Daily Express and<br />

one for the Sun.<br />

Miqdaad Versi of the Muslim Council of Britain,<br />

started challenging inaccurate stories about Muslims<br />

last November and by January alone had secured 20<br />

significant corrections, including forcing The Sun to<br />

admit that its front page “one in five British Muslims’<br />

sympathy for jihadis” was “significantly misleading”.<br />

Experts from the University of Cambridge and<br />

University of Leicester have found such reporting is<br />

leading to increased hostility against Muslims.<br />

There has been a groundswell of public support<br />

for action and leadership on ethical advertising. Stop<br />

Funding Hate already has hundreds of thousands of<br />

social media followers and its video views number in<br />

the millions, including over 600,000 for one aimed<br />

at the Co-operative Group, which advertises with the<br />

Daily Express and Daily Mail. A letter (above right)<br />

signed by 365 members of the Co-operative Group<br />

shows the appetite for co-operative leadership.<br />

This comes at an opportune moment for the Group,<br />

which is undertaking a review of its policies via its<br />

‘Co-op Way Committee’. The Co-op is a pioneer of CSR<br />

and business ethics, whether product related, like<br />

fair trade and animal testing, or business function<br />

related, such as clean energy procurement and fair<br />

tax. The situation now calls for ethical advertising<br />

procurement – a continuation of ‘the Co-op Way’.<br />

36 | APRIL <strong>2017</strong>

Recently, the Group has pre-empted its ‘Co-op<br />

Way’ review with the publication of an ‘update<br />

on our advertising policy’ and frankly I find it<br />

disappointing.<br />

There is a very welcome suspension of advertising<br />

with YouTube until the Group is “satisfied that<br />

our digital advertising will only ever appear next<br />

to appropriate content” but nothing comparable<br />

for the Daily Mail, Daily Express and The Sun. But<br />

rather than pulling its frequent advertising with<br />

these publications, it has committed to engage and<br />

challenge them on coverage “which we and many<br />

of our members believe are incompatible with our<br />

values”.<br />

I hope the Co-op Group appreciates what this<br />

commitment means. It means disclosing how it is<br />

challenging these publications and their responses.<br />

It means disclosing how effective its engagement<br />

has been and how it is changing behaviour. It means<br />

having an escalation process and a commitment to<br />

walk away if engagement fails.<br />

The commitment to look at using advertising in<br />

these publications in support of issues like fair trade<br />

in developing countries is of little consequence when<br />

those adverts sit alongside and fund stories that<br />

amount to xenophobia and racism. Does the Group<br />

realise it is opening itself up to be constantly asked<br />

“what are you going to do about story X?” and to<br />

criticism when nothing changes?<br />

The Group (and all other co-operatives) should<br />

take the opportunity to just walk away and stop<br />

advertising in publications that promote hate<br />

and division, or to put it another way – to align<br />

advertising procurement with the co-op ethics,<br />

values and principles.<br />

The Phone Co-op was one of the first to rule<br />

out advertising in these publications, which was<br />

promoted by Stop Funding Hate in a social media<br />

campaign urging fellow communications companies<br />

Tesco Mobile, Virgin Mobile and Vodafone to<br />

#BeLikePhoneCoop.<br />

Co-operatives believe in the ethical values of<br />

honesty, social responsibility and caring for others,<br />

which are incompatible with enabling irresponsible<br />

and divisive journalism via advertising revenue.<br />

The 7th co-op principle of concern for community<br />

requires a response; the constant stream of “grossly<br />

distorted” stories and “outright fabrications” about<br />

immigrants, refugees, Muslims, and other groups is<br />

extremely damaging to community cohesion.<br />

The adoption of ethical advertising is an<br />

opportunity for the whole co-operative movement<br />

to be seen to be leading the way again on a key<br />

emerging CSR issue, and to show the superiority<br />

of the co-operative model in being able to respond<br />

quickly to today’s societal challenges. Ultimately<br />

though, co-operatives should take action because to<br />

fund the promotion of hate and division is to hobble<br />

co-operation.<br />

“We the undersigned 365 Co-operative<br />

Group Members ask our co-operative to Stop<br />

Funding Hate by procuring advertising in The<br />

Daily Express, The Sun and Daily Mail.<br />

“By paying these newspapers to put our brand<br />

in their pages and on their websites, we are<br />

taking the conscious decision to associate<br />

ourselves with their content. Our adverts sit<br />

alongside divisive stories about immigrants,<br />

refugees, Muslims and other groups. These<br />

often turn out to be ‘grossly distorted’ or<br />

even ‘outright fabrications’ according to the<br />

United Nations, which has specifically cited<br />

the Sun and the Daily Express in a statement<br />

on ‘hate speech’ and ‘extremist media’, and<br />

called out the Daily Mail over its ‘unique’<br />

hostility to migrants.<br />

“Advertising in media that promotes fear,<br />

division and intolerance is the antithesis of<br />

what we should be doing. There simply must<br />

be more appropriate advertising channels and<br />

brand partnerships for the Co-op to associate<br />

with.<br />

“We look forward to hearing more about ‘the<br />

Co-op Way’ policy review at this year’s AGM<br />

and urge that this opportunity is taken to<br />

re-establish the Co-op as a pioneer of ethical<br />

business, including by aligning our advertising<br />

procurement with our ethics, values and<br />

principles.”<br />


A blog from Nick Crofts, president of the Co-op Group’s members’ council<br />

says that “for any business rebuilding itself and looking to grow in very<br />

competitive markets, using advertising to attract new customers is really<br />

important”. Mr Crofts says the Group:<br />

u has suspended paid advertising with YouTube until it is “satisfied that<br />

our digital advertising will only ever appear next to appropriate content”.<br />

u took the request to stop advertising in a small number of newspapers<br />

seriously, launched an internal audit of its activity, analysed its payback,<br />

and talked to members about it at a National Members’ Council meeting.<br />

u is using its contacts with publishers at every level to make the case for<br />

change, telling them why the stories they have published challenge the<br />

relationship it has with them. Mr Crofts says the Group has already had<br />

meetings with senior executives at the Daily Mail and the Sun.<br />

u has committed to use its advertising in these titles “to tell their millions<br />

of readers about some of the things our Co-op is doing to tackle issues that<br />

we feel strongly about, such as modern slavery or water poverty in Africa<br />

and promoting Fairtrade programmes in developing countries”.<br />

u is extending the ongoing review of its advertising policies, which began<br />

earlier in the year, to look at all the platforms it uses.<br />

APRIL <strong>2017</strong> | 37

HOW ARE<br />

CO-OPS<br />



On 24-28 <strong>April</strong>, enterprises across the UK will be celebrating<br />

Responsible Business Week. Business in the Community (BitC), the<br />

organiser of the campaign, is calling on various businesses to use<br />

the week to share and exchange ideas for responsible business.<br />

According to BitC, responsible business is not about philanthropy<br />

or good causes, but how businesses look after the planet, their<br />

employees, suppliers and communities. How are co-ops doing this?<br />

Co-ops and responsibility: education<br />





q Staff at Southern<br />

Co-operative’s Reigate<br />

Store, and chief executive<br />

Mark Smith<br />

According to BitC, one area in which businesses<br />

can make a difference is education. Education and<br />

training is one of the seven co-op principles – but<br />

does the type of education offered make co-ops<br />

uniquely responsible businesses?<br />

Mark Smith, chief executive of the Southern<br />

Co-operative, is a member of the Advisory Board<br />

of Business in the Community for the South East<br />

region. On 27 <strong>April</strong>, Mr Smith will be speaking at the<br />

Responsible Business Week Conference organised<br />

by Portsmouth Business School, in collaboration<br />

with Business in the Community.<br />

Set up over 140 years ago, Southern Co-operative<br />

runs more than 250 community food stores<br />

and funeral homes in southern England. At the<br />

conference Mr Smith will be talking about using<br />

responsible business to engage with young people<br />

from challenging backgrounds.<br />

“We know that responsible businesses contribute<br />

towards more resilient communities, stimulate<br />

local economies, help to create skilled and healthy<br />

workforces and tackle environmental challenges,”<br />

he says.<br />

“There is also a real benefit for those businesses<br />

and the people in them. As HRH the Prince of Wales<br />

Business in the Community Responsible Business<br />

Ambassador for the south east of England, I am<br />

looking forward to helping grow the responsible<br />

business network in the region. Working with<br />

BitC we will be looking to help drive company<br />

engagement in education with a particular focus<br />

on encouraging aspiration and achievement of<br />

personal potential among young people from<br />

challenging backgrounds.”<br />


Mr Smith explained how the Southern Co-operative<br />

itself had been working to break down the<br />

barriers to work, particularly for the vulnerable or<br />

disadvantaged in its communities.<br />

38 | APRIL <strong>2017</strong>

“Over 100 people took part in our work experience<br />

placements last year and we are working with BitC<br />

to develop a new toolkit for managers to ensure<br />

students receive structured, hands-on experience<br />

and leave with new skills to support their chosen<br />

career path,” he added.<br />

“A partnership with the Shaw Trust saw 120<br />

long-term unemployed clients attend monthly<br />

employability sessions that gave them the<br />

opportunity to practice their interviewing skills,<br />

learn about the current employment market and<br />

receive feedback on their CV.”<br />

Southern also continued its partnership with<br />

Portchester Community School through BitC’s<br />

Business Class programme, which connects<br />

employers with schools. Last year the society<br />

organised a range of events for pupils at the<br />

school, including an employability day, mentoring<br />

partnerships, careers talks and a ‘women in<br />

leadership event’.<br />

The Responsible Business conference will also<br />

hear from students who have been following<br />

business leaders in their day-to-day roles. This will<br />

provide a platform to understand how these leaders<br />

develop solutions, which inspire change, creating a<br />

fairer society and a more sustainable future.<br />


As part of the programme Gemma Lacey, director<br />

of sustainability and communications at Southern,<br />

was shadowed by Anne Helmholz, a student<br />

from Portsmouth University studying business<br />

administration.<br />

Ms Lacey says: “Anne fitted in really well with the<br />

business; she was bright, enquiring, and was really<br />

up for getting the most she could from the day. She<br />

shadowed meetings, spent time with my team and<br />

our chief executive and attended a leadership team<br />

briefing with our new Lakeside fundraising partner<br />

Homestart.<br />

“Being part of a programme like this supports the<br />

Southern Co-operative’s organisational values and<br />

demonstrates our commitment to nurturing young<br />

talent. It also gives us valuable insight into what<br />

makes our business attractive to future recruits.<br />

Now that I am 15 years into my career it was a great<br />

tonic to spend time with someone who is just at<br />

the start of theirs. Anne brought with her a fresh<br />

and enquiring perspective that comes with no preconceived<br />

expectations.”<br />


The Southern Co-operative has also worked<br />

with KPMG, Southampton Solent University and<br />

Business in the Community on an event to mark<br />

International Women’s Day. On 8 March 36 girls<br />

aged 14 and 15 from Oasis Academy Lords Hill,<br />

Woodlands Community College and Portchester<br />

Community School went to Southampton Solent<br />

University to meet the career women, who shared<br />

their experiences and worked with them to help<br />

them prepare for their own future careers. The u<br />

p Pupils at Woodlands<br />

Community College with<br />

businesswomen (L-R)<br />

Zoe White, Georgianna<br />

Rustell, Gemma Lacey,<br />

Kate Hibbert, Bev Wyatt<br />

and Loanna Creese<br />

APRIL <strong>2017</strong> | 39

event was organised by the Southern Co-operative<br />

and included a speed networking session where the<br />

pupils were able to ask the women professionals<br />

how they built up their careers and a session<br />

looking at the skills that employers look for, as<br />

well looking at how their academic studies would<br />

support them in the world of work.<br />

Kate Hibbert, local sourcing manager at the<br />

Southern Co-operative, says: “We had such a<br />

fantastic day and it was a humbling experience to<br />

talk to these girls. I was an incredibly shy teenager<br />

and wouldn’t even pick up a phone, I hope to<br />

inspire kids who may be suffering from confidence<br />

issues to realise their full potential – and to feel the<br />

fear and do it anyway, to quote a famous book.”<br />

Jane McMaster, assistant headteacher at<br />

Portchester Community School, adds: “This kind<br />

of event is important as it enables young women<br />

to engage with successful females who inspire,<br />

motivate and reassure them about who they are<br />

and what they can achieve. The experience will<br />

remain with them for a long time.”<br />


“”<br />






p A staff training session at Midcounties Co-operative<br />

Another co-op actively engaged in education, the<br />

Midcounties Co-operative is promoting values<br />

and principles among members and staff. Tarra<br />

Simmons, group general manager for co-operative<br />

social responsibility at Midcounties explains:<br />

“Some years ago we created a programme that<br />

brought to life the traditional co-operative values<br />

and principles in an easy to understand format.<br />

We identified four key values that fully sum up our<br />

co-operative business and help guide all of our<br />

business practices. These are the DOES values and<br />

they stand for Democracy, Openness, Equality and<br />

Society Responsibility.<br />

“Each new colleague completes a ‘Welcome to<br />

Team Midcounties’ programme before joining the<br />

business where we bring to life the vision for the<br />

business and explain how we demonstrate our<br />

Co-operative difference.<br />

“We use these inductions to give new colleagues<br />

the chance to share their ideas and identify how<br />

they can put the DOES values into practice both in<br />

and outside the workplace.”<br />

The co-op is running a variety of development<br />

opportunities to enable employees to “reach their<br />

full potential”.<br />

“Each trading group provides a bespoke training<br />

and education programme that is appropriate to<br />

their industry and operational needs,” adds Ms<br />

Simmons. “As part of the Midcounties learning<br />

and development strategy, we offer apprenticeship<br />

and graduate programmes to drive and plan<br />

for succession, fostering an environment that<br />

recognises and develops talent,”<br />

Throughout 2016 the co-op engaged with a total<br />

of 9,000 young people.<br />

Midcounties collaborates with schools and<br />

educational organisations and offers work<br />

experience placements and provides support for<br />

building employability skills such as CV writing,<br />

interview techniques and work-ready programmes.<br />

“We recognise that as a local employer we have<br />

a responsibility to develop strong communities for<br />

the future. We do this by recruiting local people<br />

and providing all our colleagues with access to life<br />

long learning.<br />

“We’re committed to developing young people,<br />

which forms part of our CSR agenda, and recognise<br />

the opportunities that we have to support young<br />

members of the community as they prepare for the<br />

world of work,” says Ms Simmons.<br />

Last year colleagues at Midcounties volunteered<br />

over 23,000 hours in their local communities. The<br />

co-op is also focusing on raising awareness of<br />

environment issues.<br />

“Through our environmental strategy, we also<br />

raise awareness to our colleagues and members<br />

about taking action to reduce energy consumption<br />

and increase recycling. Furthermore, we encourage<br />

our partner school to get involved by promoting<br />

campaigns such as Earth Hour,” adds Ms Simmons.<br />

40 | APRIL <strong>2017</strong>

Co-ops and responsibility: community<br />

In 2015 East of England Co-operative announced<br />

an ambitious community engagement mission: to<br />

become the leading dementia-friendly retailer.<br />

There are over 50,000 people diagnosed as living<br />

with dementia in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, and<br />

in a survey carried out by Alzheimer’s UK, 23%<br />

of participants said that they have had to stop<br />

shopping as a result of living with dementia.<br />

East of England joint chief executive, Minnie<br />

Moll, is HRH the Prince of Wales Business in the<br />

Community Responsible Business Ambassador in<br />

East Anglia. As part of her role she is looking at<br />

how the retailer can improve local awareness of<br />

what dementia is – and how becoming a ‘dementia<br />

friend’ can truly help those living with the disease.<br />


“As the largest independent retailer in the region,<br />

we’ve pledged to become dementia friendly, and<br />

have embarked on a programme of colleague<br />

training and awareness-raising throughout our<br />

stores and office,” says Ms Moll.<br />

“As a community retailer it is incredibly<br />

important to us that all of our customers, including<br />

those with age related conditions or dementia,<br />

are able to comfortably shop in our stores – and<br />

that our colleagues are able to provide them with<br />

support and assistance when they need it.”<br />

So far 3,964 East of England colleagues have<br />

completed the voluntary training, which aims to<br />

create a better understanding of what dementia is,<br />

how it affects people and how to identify dementia<br />

in a retail environment.<br />

The training includes online learning or face-toface<br />

sessions, and colleagues can also take part in<br />

a workplace challenge called ‘Shopping in their<br />

Shoes’, which involves gathering items from a basic<br />

shopping list and paying for them, while wearing a<br />

GERontolic Test (GERT) – or ageing – suit.<br />

GERT suits age the wearer by approximately<br />

30 years, by replicating a number of age-related<br />

conditions, distorting the senses through reduced<br />

eyesight and hearing and making movement<br />

more difficult with weights fitted to joints. East<br />

of England purchased its own GERT suit so that<br />

p Minnie Moll (right),<br />

East of England joint<br />

chief executive, prepares<br />

to take part in the<br />

‘Shopping in their Shoes’<br />

challenge<br />

APRIL <strong>2017</strong> | 41

colleagues have the opportunity to take part in<br />

Shopping in their Shoes. Other local businesses<br />

have also tried the suit as part of their dementia<br />

training and elements of the suit have been taken<br />

to county fairs and shows as part of educating the<br />

local community on the impact of dementia.<br />

Darren Wash, manager at East of England’s<br />

Felixstowe store, took part in the challenge in<br />

October 2014. “I’m more aware as a result of the<br />

experience – not just about the physical challenges<br />

of shopping, but also the importance of connecting<br />

with other people,” he says. “For some of our<br />

customers, we might be the only human interaction<br />

they’ve had all week.<br />

“It also made me think about the practical ways<br />

that we can make the shopping experience better<br />

for all our customers – whether it’s customer<br />

service or the process of paying and packing.”<br />


East of England is one of only 33 businesses<br />

nationally to have been awarded a Princess Royal<br />

Award for its training, which was created in<br />

partnership with the Norfolk and Suffolk Dementia<br />

Alliance and the Essex Alzheimer’s Society. East of<br />

England also conducted its own research around<br />

the subject.<br />

Ms Moll explains how the society ran several<br />

community research groups in one of its Ipswich<br />

stores, with people living with dementia and their<br />

carers, as well as people living with other kinds of<br />

disabilities or challenges for shopping.<br />

“They went round on a mission shop and<br />

afterwards we asked what the challenges were.<br />

One of the things that came up was that a black<br />

“”<br />








32 | APRIL <strong>2017</strong>

mat – which is very often at the entrance – can be<br />

perceived as a hole. It recedes away.<br />

“So sometimes you will find someone with<br />

dementia not going over a threshold, or being very<br />

tentative about the mat.”<br />

Another issue raised was mirrors, as the person<br />

they see may not be the perception someone with<br />

dementia has of themselves.<br />

As a result of this research, East of England<br />

looked at various physical changes it could make<br />

to stores, while still maintaining health and safety<br />

standards. Using the feedback, the number of<br />

mats used in stores has been reduced by 40%. In<br />

some stores, the retailer removed the mirrors from<br />

freezers and fridges, and put arrow signs onto<br />

sliding freezer doors. Lighting was also looked at,<br />

and these changes will now be incorporated into<br />

new stores as they open.<br />

As well as over 120 food outlets, East of England<br />

operates funeral services, travel stores, pharmacies<br />

and opticians – all of which bring their own<br />

challenges for those with dementia and their carers.<br />

The society has done a lot of work with Roger<br />

Fern, the Mayor of Ipswich, whose wife is in late<br />

stages of dementia, and he brought further insight<br />

about the challenges of involved.<br />

“Roger’s wife still loves to read – but going to get<br />

a glasses prescription with her was a challenge:<br />

how does she explain to the optician if things are<br />

getting clearer? How do you get the prescription<br />

right if – even if they are lucid later – they are not<br />

able to engage at that moment?” says Ms Moll.<br />

“One of the key things was absolute patience and<br />

the ability to adapt and change the way you frame<br />

the have the conversation: ‘Which ones do you like<br />

most? Which ones do you think will help you?’”<br />

Roger Fern made dementia his high profile<br />

campaign for 2016 and, with East of England,<br />

launched the Ipswich Dementia Action Alliance to<br />

help make Ipswich a dementia-friendly town.<br />


One challenge of the mission has been measuring<br />

its impact, says Ms Moll. “How do you know you’re<br />

doing the right thing? How do you know you’re<br />

impacting? How do you measure it?<br />

“A lot of the measuring is simply the number of<br />

people who get in touch saying ‘you did this kind<br />

thing for my mother the other day, you phoned<br />

me up and told me she was in there at 9 o’clock at<br />

night’,” she says.<br />

“Another told us how her mother, who had<br />

Alzheimer’s but wished to stay in her own home,<br />

would continually visit her local co-op store – the<br />

staff called her directly if they were concerned about<br />

her mum and kept her updated on her behaviour.”<br />

East of England is making their training<br />

available for free to businesses across Great Britain<br />

– including co-operatives, and there has already<br />

been interest shown from a company in Northern<br />

Ireland, a hotel group in Suffolk and local shopping<br />

centres – and the co-op has completed training<br />

with stewards at Ipswich Town Football Club.<br />

“What started as our own mission has become<br />

far reaching, as we work in partnership with<br />

other businesses and organisations to address the<br />

challenges of dementia,” says Ms Moll. “We’re<br />

so proud of our colleagues who make the real<br />

difference each day by supporting people living<br />

with dementia to retain independent and still feel<br />

part of their community.”<br />

OPPOSITE: Minnie<br />

Moll taking part in<br />

the ‘Shopping in their<br />

Shoes’ challenge, which<br />

involves gathering items<br />

from a basic shopping<br />

list and paying for them<br />

at the till, while wearing<br />

an ageing suit<br />

Four ways co-ops can become more dementia friendly<br />

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease of the brain that slowly<br />

causes impairment in memory and cognitive function. Dementia<br />

is an overall term used to describe symptoms that impact memory,<br />

performance of daily activities, and communication abilities.<br />

East of England shares four tips for other businesses looking to<br />

become more dementia friendly...<br />


There is far more to living with dementia than many of us truly<br />

understand. Take the time to listen and learn from those with<br />

more knowledge than yourself, whether a health professional, a<br />

carer or family member, and most importantly the people living<br />

with dementia, to really understand what would make a positive<br />

impact on their lives.<br />


Delivering dementia friends sessions alone does not guarantee<br />

a dementia-friendly business. To be a true dementia-friendly<br />

business you need every member of the business to connect<br />

with your vision rationally and emotionally. Make sure<br />

everyone know it’s critical for business and create meaningful<br />

opportunities to get involved – storytelling, volunteering,<br />

fundraising, or engaging with people living with dementia<br />

through local alliances and support groups.<br />


This is the co-operative way! Working in partnership with other<br />

organisations and businesses has created huge impact. So<br />

much more than we had worked alone.<br />


Becoming a Dementia Friendly Business is not a quick fix,<br />

tick box exercise. It’s a long term investment to improve<br />

business sustainability and positively shape the future for your<br />

customers, colleagues and communities.<br />

APRIL <strong>2017</strong> | 43

Innovation through providing the<br />

unexpected<br />


44 | APRIL <strong>2017</strong><br />

To win in today’s competitive world, co-ops must<br />

provide the unexpected to their customers, says<br />

Howard Brodsky, co-founder and co-chief executive<br />

of CCA Global Partners.<br />

Speaking at the Co-operative Retail Conference,<br />

he outlined the key steps co-operatives can take to<br />

achieve this. “There is an enormous opportunity to<br />

take it to a new level,” he told delegates at the Cooperatives<br />

UK event, held in Stratford-Upon-Avon<br />

on 5 March.<br />

He gave the example of Zappos, a US shoe<br />

company aiming to provide fast online services.<br />

In 2015 the e-retailer sent 1,900 boxes with Zappos<br />

accessories and winter goodies to people in the<br />

town of Hanover, New Hampshire. The initiative<br />

was documented on film to remind customers that<br />

the business sold more than just shoes, drawing<br />

100,000 views on YouTube.<br />

Smaller companies have more scope to deliver<br />

the unexpected, said Mr Brodsky. “World-class<br />

p Howard Brodsky<br />

service is delivering the expected; unexpected<br />

service is delivered with creativity,” he added.<br />


To encourage this, co-ops should give people<br />

on the frontline the authority to do “something<br />

unexpected” and surprise customers, he said.<br />

Similarly, co-ops should offer the unexpected<br />

to their employees, leading to a higher staff<br />

retention levels. “Employees expect good wage and<br />

pensions,” he said. “So at CCA Global we take our<br />

people to movies – we rent an entire movie theatre.<br />

We do all kind of things that are unexpected and<br />

they cherish that.<br />

“If somebody does something unbelievable once<br />

every three weeks, in social media today, that’s<br />

your brand. We are not going to beat companies<br />

by investing more money in publicity. You need to<br />

outsmart them.”<br />

Dating back to 1985, CCA Global Partners is a<br />

purchasing co-operative comprising 13 affiliated<br />

companies with aggregated sales of over USD<br />

$10bn. Its businesses are active in the carpet<br />

industry, as well as childcare, sport retail and<br />

interior design.<br />

Its success showed how co-operatives<br />

should work together to achieve scale, he said.<br />

“Individually, we can do great things but together<br />

we can do unbelievable things.”<br />


Co-ops could also save between 15% and 20% by<br />

buying together, he said – and co-ops could work<br />

together at different levels: local, national and<br />

international.<br />

At local level retail, co-ops could share IT<br />

resources, warehouses or management and<br />

provide joint offers to customers, said Mr Brodsky.<br />

On a national and international scale, they could<br />

collaborate on solutions for common challenges<br />

such as how to attract millennials or share<br />

technology to drive innovation.<br />

“Individually it is difficult to put enough<br />

resources towards innovation but, if combined<br />

globally, resources could be enormous so that<br />

we could be ahead of the game, not catching up,”<br />

he added.<br />

“At CCA we were able to bring a lot of services<br />

we would never be able to have otherwise. We built

up a lot of internal resources, training groups, real<br />

estate groups, insurance groups.<br />

“Growing in scale is not just about getting larger<br />

numbers but scaling up and having the services<br />

that our members need to stay competitive and be<br />

profitable. Our diversity of companies has brought<br />

services to us and management talent.”<br />


Along with the International Co-operative Alliance,<br />

CCA Global is exploring the possibility of an online<br />

buying portal where customers can buy exclusively<br />

from co-ops.<br />

A platform co-op eco system already exists in the<br />

USA and is looking to grow web-based marketplaces<br />

that are collectively owned and democratically<br />

governed.<br />

Another area to work on, he said, is ensuring<br />

that employees and members understand the<br />

co-op model so they can spread the message. Mr<br />

Brodsky founded a non-profit, CBW, with a mission<br />

to raise awareness of the co-operative business<br />

model through education and inspiration. This<br />

organisation is working with the Alliance on the<br />

Co-operatives for a Better World campaign, a global<br />

marketing campaign to promote co-operative<br />

identity launched in November 2015.<br />

For the campaign, CBW produced the first What<br />

If videos telling stories of co-operatives in different<br />

countries. Since the launch of the first video, 14<br />

countries have produced their own customised<br />

versions of the film.<br />

Asked about the next stage of the campaign,<br />

Mr Brodsky said the natural extension of “What<br />

if” would be “Why?” – with co-ops telling their<br />

individual story of why they operate as a co-op,<br />

what they stand for and what it means to them.<br />

“People are inspired by great stories, we need to<br />

gather and share those stories,” he said.<br />

But he said it was also crucial for co-operatives<br />

to take risks if they want to succeed. For instance,<br />

in 2015 CCA Global launched a new guaranteed<br />

waterproof, stain-resistant carpet, which stops<br />

spills soaking through.<br />

“We came out with the first guaranteed stainproof<br />

carpet – no one else had done that in the<br />

industry,” he said. “We did it because we felt it was<br />

important to do. It was a risk.<br />

“With successful companies the greatest risk is<br />

not to risk. You have to risk smartly but you have<br />

to risk.”<br />

This focus on retail innovation is authored<br />

by Co-operative News, with support from<br />

Celtech (www.celtechgroup.com). Celtech is a<br />

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• In-store<br />

- POS and store operations<br />

- Loss prevention<br />

• On-line<br />

- Click-and-collect / delivered<br />

• Warehouse<br />

- Bulk / Picking / Packing / Ship<br />

• Enterprise<br />

- Master data management<br />

- Stock and replenishment<br />

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Celtech’s proven co-op transition<br />

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APRIL <strong>2017</strong> | 45

How to go ‘hyperlocal’ and connect<br />

with communities<br />

q Jason Shorrock,<br />

vice president of retail<br />

strategy EMEA at JDA<br />

Software Group<br />

Hyperlocal is a marketing buzzword to remind big<br />

brands to connect with their communities – and<br />

connecting with communities is one of the key<br />

pillars of a co-operative.<br />

Normally, this works best for a small co-op that is<br />

fully embedded in a town or village – but how can<br />

a large national or regional co-operative be local?<br />

The Co-op Group is looking to address this<br />

question by thinking hyperlocal. Over the past<br />

few years, members have called for stores to stock<br />

more local food. Logistics have prevented this from<br />

happening on a large scale, but now the Group<br />

is edging towards a strategy that will stock the<br />

products that the community wants.<br />

Putting the community and store managers in<br />

control is the key change that co-operatives must<br />

embrace, according to the Group’s retail innovation<br />

partner JDA.<br />


The firm has been working with the Group for a<br />

number of years to help the retailer with shelf<br />

replenishment and store layout. Now they are<br />

taking the partnership to the next level to help the<br />

Group realise its ambition of becoming the UK’s<br />

number one convenience retailer.<br />

Jason Shorrock, vice president of retail strategy<br />

EMEA at JDA, describes its range of retail solutions<br />

as ‘shopper-centric’ – and believes this is especially<br />

important factor for member-owned businesses.<br />

“Traditionally retailers have thought largely about<br />

which product they want to sell and how much<br />

they want to sell it for,” he says.<br />

“From our perspective, as customers change their<br />

expectations, retailers have to think about which<br />

customers are coming through the door, what do<br />

they want to buy, and how we can make sure those<br />

items can be provided in their local stores<br />

“We help the Co-op to adapt the local range in<br />

stores to the local customers in the area through a<br />

combination of analysis of what has been sold in<br />

the past and to who, and local knowledge through<br />

input from store managers.”<br />

Thanks to a selection of planning and assortment<br />

solutions, Mr Shorrock says Co-op customers will<br />

notice that the products they see in their local stores<br />

are well matched to what they want to buy, whether<br />

that’s fresh rood, food to go, food for families or<br />

particular ethnic goods. Customers will also notice<br />

fewer empty shelves – something he describes as<br />

“a perennial problem for retailers”.<br />

Alongside making sure that what is being offered<br />

in different stores is “relevant and right for their<br />

46 | APRIL <strong>2017</strong>

communities”, JDA also encourages collaboration<br />

with local and regional manufacturers, suppliers<br />

and producers. “We will encourage a better way of<br />

doing business by helping the Co-op do business<br />

more efficiently,” says Mr Shorrock. “Taking away<br />

some of the mundane tasks helps a business to run<br />

more efficiently and gives employees more time to<br />

engage with members and customers.”<br />

JDA has also worked with co-operatives in<br />

Denmark and Italy, as well as the UK’s Southern,<br />

Channel Islands, Midcounties and Scotmid retail<br />

societies, but they also work with manufacturers.<br />

“The business of what to put in stores is a<br />

collaboration between retailers, merchants, store<br />

managers and manufacturers and producers,” he<br />

says. And by working more cohesively along the<br />

supply chain, it gives value at every point.<br />

The Co-op Group has been working on store<br />

ranges and layout stores, and is now getting to the<br />

stage where every store and shelf is planned in<br />

detail and linked into the replenishment process.<br />

Mr Shorrock says that other retailers who have<br />

done this have seen a typical range of uplift as 1-5%<br />

of total revenue – with uplifts in some categories of<br />

up to 30%.<br />


JDA has seen retailing change significantly over<br />

the last three decades, especially through the rise<br />

of the internet and in the way online shopping<br />

has changed customer expectations: “People<br />

expect anything to be shipped from anywhere<br />

to anywhere. Consumers are more comfortable<br />

with using their mobile devices in stores to look<br />

up items, check reviews and order online,” he<br />

says. “It’s increasingly common for smart devices<br />

to be seen in the hands of colleagues as well<br />

as consumers – and we are starting to see the<br />

introduction of digital displays, and kiosks where<br />

you can look up information. In the future, there<br />

will be robots that do stock checks – used well,<br />

technology can improve the customer experience<br />

and remove mundane jobs.”<br />

He explains how the British Retail Consortium<br />

has been doing a lot of work on the impact of<br />

technology. “The prediction is that there will be<br />

fewer jobs in retail, but we believe there will be<br />

better and more fulfilling jobs for staff – it will be<br />

more about customer engagement and service. So<br />

there are pros and cons.”<br />

Mr Shorrock believes the future of retail is<br />

“hassle-free and frictionless” shopping. “Shopping<br />

will be really easy,” he says. “Technology will<br />

remove all the awkward and annoying things<br />

about shopping, and instead people will go out to<br />

convenience stores to have culinary experiences,<br />

talk to knowledgeable people and try and learn new<br />

things. It will be about going to have an experience<br />

and enjoy a different aspect of food and eating.<br />

“Technology removes basic drudgery – that will<br />

extend to shopping.”<br />

p Food to Go and<br />

baked goods at the<br />

Co-op Group’s Monkton<br />

Heathfield store<br />

“”<br />




APRIL <strong>2017</strong> | 47


Another<br />

Economy is<br />

Possible<br />

Edited by Manuel<br />

Castells<br />

(Polity Books, <strong>2017</strong>)<br />

As the dust began to settle after the 2008 financial<br />

crisis, governments in the western world responded<br />

by trying to restore business as usual. But, writes<br />

author and academic Professor Manuel Castells,<br />

“the economic, social and human damage inflicted<br />

by the crisis has given rise to a reconsideration of<br />

the inevitability of unfettered capitalism as a fact<br />

of life”.<br />

He explains how a number of economic practices<br />

and organisations emerged in Europe and the United<br />

States that embodied “alternative values: the value<br />

of life over the value of money; the effectiveness of<br />

co-operation over cut-throat competition; the social<br />

responsibility of corporations and responsible<br />

regulation by governments over the short-term<br />

speculative strategies that brought the economy to<br />

the brink of catastrophe”.<br />

This book brings together international<br />

researchers, designers, scientists and economists<br />

to examine this blossoming of new ways of<br />

organising work and life, from co-operatives,<br />

barter networks, and ethical banking to community<br />

currencies, shared time banks and solidarity<br />

network. These experiments “paved the way for the<br />

emergence of a sharing economy in all domains of<br />

activity oriented toward the satisfaction of human<br />

needs,” says Prof Castells.<br />

As organisations with a strongly defined set of<br />

values, co-operatives such as The Cooperativa<br />

Integral Catalana (CIC) in Barcelona are used as<br />

examples of how this can work.<br />

With over 600 members and 2,000 participants,<br />

CIC acts as an umbrella structure for independent<br />

producers and consumers of organic food and<br />

artisanal products, residents of eco communes<br />

and occupied houses, co-operative enterprises<br />

and regional networks of exchange that issue their<br />

own currency. “CIC has its own conceptual mode of<br />

the economy, consisting of five co-centric cycles,<br />

with reciprocity and gift exchange at the core,”<br />

writes environmental scientist Giorgios Kallis.<br />

“This conceptual model is materialised into an<br />

alternative economy.”<br />

Prof Castells adds: “[Our] analysis develops an<br />

important theoretical argument: that the economy,<br />

as a human practice, is shaped by culture, and that<br />

the diversity of cultures, as revealed in a time of<br />

crisis, implies the possibility of different economies<br />

depending on the values and power relations that<br />

define economic institutions.”<br />

THREE<br />

READS<br />

Simel Esim is a political economist, working in<br />

social and economic development for the past 25<br />

years. She has been with the International Labour<br />

Organization (ILO) for the past 13 years including<br />

eight years in the field. She is currently manager of<br />

the Cooperatives Unit in Geneva. She shares three<br />

of her recent favourites here.<br />

1. The Corruption of Capitalism: Why rentiers thrive<br />

and work does not pay by Guy Standing (Biteback<br />

Publishing, 2016). This is the third in a series of<br />

recent books by Guy Standing. In the first two, he<br />

talks about the plight of the precariat, moving in<br />

and out of precarious jobs and a vision of society<br />

in which inequality is reduced. In this last book<br />

he explains how the global economic system is<br />

rigged weakening the security of the many while<br />

strengthening the wealth of a few.<br />

2. Yes Magazine (quarterly, yesmagazine.org).<br />

Available online and in print, this is a nonprofit,<br />

independent, reader-supported magazine. It<br />

provides in-depth analysis, stories and tools for<br />

citizen engagement on co-operatives and other<br />

social and solidarity economy organizations. There<br />

is a good balance in the magazine between sharing<br />

of powerful ideas and practical actions for change.<br />

3. Grassroots Economic Organizing (GEO) website<br />

(www.geo.coop). Organised as a democratic<br />

decentralised collective, GEO was founded by a<br />

collective of educators, researchers and grassroots<br />

activists. They work to promote an economy<br />

based on democratic participation, worker and<br />

community ownership, social and economic<br />

justice, and ecological sustainability through<br />

grassroots journalism, organising support, crosssector<br />

networking and movement-building and<br />

the publication of educational and organisational<br />

resources.<br />

48 | APRIL <strong>2017</strong>

The Ethical<br />

Careers Guide:<br />

How to find the<br />

work you love<br />

Paul Allen<br />

(New Internationalist,<br />

<strong>2017</strong>)<br />

An Alternative Labour History<br />

Edited by Dario Azzellini<br />

(Zed Books London, 2015)<br />

An Alternative Labour History is an analysis of<br />

workers’ self-administered production. Edited<br />

by Dario Azzellini, the book looks at examples of<br />

workers gaining control of the means of production<br />

in countries like France, Argentina, Italy, Greece,<br />

Canada, Chile or Australia.<br />

Various models are examined across the book’s<br />

10 chapters, each consisting of an essay written by<br />

academics or activists. The authors also explore<br />

the limits and contradictions of the co-operative<br />

model, arguing that it fails to question private<br />

ownership of the means of production.<br />

“Most co-operatives see their ideals fading<br />

away as their members age. Having to act in a cooperative<br />

economy while not following its rules is<br />

extremely difficult. Capitalism is a vortex,” writes Dr<br />

Azzellini in the book’s introduction.<br />

He believes that co-operatives in the field of<br />

production constitute “a hybrid form in the midst<br />

of capitalism”. The book also focuses on the idea<br />

of building a workers’ economy.<br />

Readers may recognise Paul Allan from the Guardian,<br />

where he writes about the voluntary sector – or the<br />

BBC, where he has run environmental projects. In<br />

2007, he wrote Your Ethical Business, a start-up<br />

guide to creating a socially and environmentally<br />

responsible business – but here he’s concentrating<br />

on helping people find jobs that make them happy.<br />

“You will spend around 100,000 hours of your life<br />

at work,” he writes. “It’s a long time to be doing<br />

something you don’t like.”<br />

This guide is aimed at anyone who wants to do<br />

something meaningful with their working life –<br />

doing something they love while making a positive<br />

difference to the world. A good job, he believes, is<br />

one that fits with your morals, makes you feel good<br />

about going to work, and isn’t just about making<br />

money. He understands that people’s individual<br />

idea of a ‘meaningful’ job is different, though, and<br />

as such the book is less of a manual and more of an<br />

inspirational guide for job seekers (school leavers<br />

and graduates) and career switchers.<br />

There are interviews with people who have ‘been<br />

there and done it’, useful case studies and lots of<br />

practical information – including guides to social<br />

enterprises, community interest companies and cooperatives<br />

as business models that those leaving<br />

education or looking to change jobs may not know<br />

a lot about. “Co-ops are a big deal,” he writes.<br />

“There are more member owners of co-ops (just<br />

over 15 million) that there are direct shareholders<br />

of businesses in the UK.”<br />

Spare Change<br />

Iona Bain<br />

(Hardie Grant Books,<br />

2016)<br />

Author of the YoungMoneyBlog, financial blogger<br />

Iona Bain has published a book exploring<br />

personal financial issues and the challenges<br />

faced by young people. The book includes<br />

practical advice and tips looks at the psychology<br />

of money and the reasons why people overspend<br />

or fail to plan ahead.<br />

A 29-year-old freelance writer, Ms Bain set up<br />

the YoungMoneyBlog in 2011, for which she won<br />

the Money Blogger of the Year at the Santander<br />

Media Awards this year.<br />

“Poor money management doesn’t just lead<br />

to debt and hardship; it damages our health,<br />

relationships and career,” she says. “But it’s<br />

never too late to re-think financial attitudes that<br />

hold us back. We can even learn to be happy with<br />

money by using it to our advantage – without<br />

letting it rule our lives.”<br />

The book also touches upon longer-term<br />

considerations, such as savings, insurance or<br />

housing, explaining how people could act on<br />

each week or month to improve our long-term<br />

prospects. It also surveys the landscape of<br />

ethical choices for spending and saving, linking<br />

this original book back to its core values.<br />

“We can all incorporate better habits into our<br />

daily routine, starting with basics like ‘fridge<br />

foraging’ and energy economies before moving<br />

on to low-cost ways to enjoy the finer things in<br />

life,” adds Ms Bain.<br />

t<br />

Iona Bain<br />

APRIL <strong>2017</strong> | 49

DIARY<br />


Responsible business week runs from<br />

24-28 <strong>April</strong>; Supporters Direct waves<br />

the scarf for Co-operatives Fortnight<br />

from 17 Jun - 1 Jul; the More Than A Pub<br />

Conference offers advice to the co-op pub<br />

sector on 18 May; and Dr Cilla Ross from<br />

the Co-operative College is among those<br />

looking at options for Wales on 8 <strong>April</strong><br />

4 Apr: An Introduction to Co-operative<br />

and Community Benefit Society Law<br />

UKSCS and Anthony Collins Solicitors event.<br />

WHERE: 134 Edmund Street,<br />

Birmingham, B3 2ES<br />

INFO: secukscs@gmail.com<br />

5-6 Apr: Co-operative Education<br />

Conference<br />

The Co-operative College’s annual<br />

conference will focus on how co-operative<br />

learning can challenge inequalities.<br />

WHERE: Manchester Metropolitan<br />

University<br />

INFO: s.coop/24hqg<br />

6 Apr: Robert Oakeshott Lecture<br />

Sacha Romanovitch, CEO of Grant<br />

Thornton UK LLP, looks at how “shared<br />

enterprise” has the potential to leverage<br />

opportunities for business.<br />

WHERE: Chartered Accountants’ Hall, One<br />

Moorgate Place, London.<br />

INFO: employeeownership.co.uk<br />

8 Apr: A Co-operative Education System<br />

for a Co-operative Wales?<br />

What opportunities are there for cooperative<br />

education in Wales and<br />

what form should such a system take?<br />

Speakers include Dr Cilla Ross from the<br />

Co-operative College.<br />

WHERE: Cartrefi Cymru Co-operative,<br />

Curran Road, Cardiff CF10 5NB<br />

INFO: www.cooperatives-wales.coop<br />

24-28 Apr: Responsible Business Week<br />

The annual awareness week for<br />

responsible business, run by Business in<br />

the Community to inspire and challenge<br />

more businesses to take action which<br />

creates positive change in society.<br />

27-28 Apr: Cooperatives Europe<br />

General Assembly<br />

General Assembly and elections for the<br />

European region of the International<br />

Co-operative Alliance.<br />

WHERE: Koperattiva Malta<br />

INFO: coopseurope.coop/events<br />

2 May: International Workers’ Day<br />

5-7 May: Worker Co-op Weekend<br />

Practical sessions designed and run by<br />

worker co-ops, with vegan-friendly co-op<br />

food and drink, camping and campfires.<br />

WHERE: Foundry Adventure Centre,<br />

Derbyshire.<br />

INFO: membership@uk.coop<br />

18 May: More Than A Pub Conference<br />

National conference organised by the<br />

Plunkett Foundation with expert advice<br />

and networking for pub co-ops.<br />

WHERE: Coin Street Conference Centre,<br />

108 Stamford Street, London, SE1 9NH<br />

INFO: www.plunkett.co.uk<br />

20 May: Co-op Group AGM<br />

WHERE: Manchester Central<br />

INFO: agm@coop.co.uk<br />

17 Jun - 1 Jul: Co-operatives Fortnight<br />

Nationwide celebration of the movement.<br />


5-17 Jun: ILO Labour Conference <strong>2017</strong><br />

20-24 Jun: Committee of Co-operative<br />

Research – International Conference<br />

30 Jun - 1 Jul: Co-operative Congress<br />

1 Jul: International Day of Co-operatives<br />

4-5 Jul : Intl Fair Trade Towns Conference<br />

5 Jul: Plunkett Foundation AGM<br />

23-26 Jul: Woccu Conference<br />

50 | APRIL <strong>2017</strong>

Discover the Difference<br />


Join us for four days of unmatched learning against the backdrop of<br />

Austria’s capital at the <strong>2017</strong> World Credit Union Conference.<br />

Team building environment perfect for networking<br />

Top-class exhibition hall filled with solution providers<br />

Big speakers tackling trending topics<br />


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