Graphic showing text: Put your questions about our role in the wider Co-operative Movement to CEO Steve Murrells

Once again we’d like your questions please for our CEO, Steve Murrells – this time around the theme of our Co-op’s role in the wider Co-operative Movement.

Add your questions below (please include your email address as you comment so we can get back to you individually if we need to) and we’ll put a selection of them to Steve in his next colleague Q&A session (we’re also taking questions via Colleague Facebook).

Your questions may be around how we work with other societies or perhaps our support for co-operatives in different sectors? Maybe you’d like to know what Steve thinks our role should be in the future – and how we might achieve his ambition to be a leading co-operative? Maybe you’ve worked in, or seen something in, another co-operative in the UK or overseas and want to share something or ask why we don’t work in the same?

Steve outlined our desire to show leadership within the Co-operative Movement at this year’s AGM. So it’s over to you for your questions on this. Please get them in by Tuesday 26 September and then look out for his answers the week after.

Join the conversation! 29 Comments

  1. Colleagues… thank you for all your questions. Unfortunately, Steve’s diary has had to change so we won’t be recording his answers until next week. Now planning on publishing this on Friday 13th October. Sorry for the delay. ^Kevin

  2. People love the Co-op when they understand what it is.
    What are our plans to educate the nation on the Co-op model?
    Without this, I worry that our marketing is pointless

  3. We give affinity partner discount to Army, Royal Navy, Gmb, USDAW to name a few why do we not give Co-op member’s any discount ?
    Also when we send letter’s to our member’s why can’t we include leaflet’s about our other services like Co-op Legal services, Credit Union etc

  4. Hello.
    Each year our members vote to donate £700k to the co-op party. As a member, I would like to know what has been done with this money? How is the co-op party helping us to achieve our goals?

  5. Would there be a way to link in with projects that promote healthy living, which would benefit our local communities. Say if we could promote fruit and veg donated by the allotments local to give to the young frail and in need. It’s so expensive to eat well, cheaper to eat the wrong things and obesity is a huge problem. I would like to see us doing more to promote/prevent this. Is there a still link between the group and the farms, do we still have materials there to educate the kids that we visit in the schools. If we have contributed with our 1% to a local kitchen garden project could we have a stall in the store where we could showcase it.

    Do we have to have class one veg as well, nothing wrong with wonky carrots or parsnips or crooked apples.

  6. Hi Steve
    Great to see this discussion and the comments it has raised so far.

    I am reiterating the comment made by Simon
    Can we use the ‘Coop marque’ on OB products that we sell that are supplied by other coops, just like we use the Fairtrade symbol? And encourage our suppliers to use it if they are coops – eg Ocean Spray.

    Some of us were disappointed when we ditched the .coop domain name, which we had fought long and hard for the Group to use. Has the move to paid off sufficiently to warrant us distancing ourselves from the movement in this way ?

    • Good point Barbara.

      Moving away from the .coop domain was a symbolic moment and a distancing act.

      Thanks for adding valuable substance to the point about making other co-operatives more visible.

  7. How many of our suppliers are Co-ops, and would you consider moving to new suppliers that are coops for example Arla for our fresh milk?

  8. What can we do to educate the public about co-ops and the difference from a PLC?

    • I don’t think the fact that colleagues refer to us as “The Company” helps. This is particularly true of new colleagues at Angel Square. I know they are using it in the way to mean us as a group, but I always use the term “organisation” never company. I hear colleagues at all levels referring to “The Company” and this only perpetuates the feeling from within and also amongst the general public, that we are becoming too corporate and losing sight of the co-operative ethos.

      • Trish, I get what you’re saying… but we also have to balance the fact that we have to be commercially successful in order to ‘do the good’ that we want to. If you look at our interim results published yesterday, showing that we gave £29m to members and £6 to local causes from our profits is only possible because we have a commercial feel to running our businesses. But you are right, we do still need to remember that the reason we are running our businesses is to deliver against the co-operative values and ethos… something we are definitely doing as these results show, but only possible by also having a strong commercial mindset to get the money in the first place. ^Kevin

    • Hi Nic, did you read our results that we published yesterday? ( We’ve specifically changed the ‘norm’ of results reporting and instead of leading with figures, instead lead with demonstrating the real difference we’re making as a Co-op to members and communities. It’s not going to change the industry overnight, but it’s a start. ^Kevin

  9. Are we still going to have a movement with Ops cutting stores hours over and over again? There is a distinct lack of staff in many of our stores due to cuts in hours, yet we see a huge new “improvement” team in place that seem to cutting hours with one hand and preventing central tasks from being done due to “lack of hours” – where are all these cut hours going to? into the pockets of this new team? Because there does not seem to be a clarity on the saving they are claiming and its use in commercial or development or refits. Our store staff are key local staff that help drive a lot of our campaigns and we are seemingly staving them of resource to do so with a vampiric effect.

  10. Millions of low paid and unemployed families are blighted by loan sharks and pay day loan companies each year. Credit Unions are the ethical and sensible way for these families to manage their finances but many people are unaware of what they are and how they can join. Could/would the Co-op assist the Credit Unions by promoting them to our members and more widely e.g. through day time TV advertising when pay day loan companies target the vulnerable?

  11. One of the biggest problems facing people is a proliferation of poor quality unaffordable housing, something that business and government are unwilling to address. The Rochdale Pioneers provided unadulterated food because that was a big and ignored issue at the time; so in that spirit why don’t we build some houses?

    On the co-op directory there are many housing co-operatives so that proves that it can be done and if done right it could make a real difference to people across the nation.

  12. When are we going to announce our gender pay gap? How are the Co-op moving towards equal pay.

    • Hi JG, I’ll ask the question and get back to you as soon as possible. ^Jordan

    • We are currently working on our figures and will publish before the deadline of April 2018.
      But irrespective of the figures, equality, equity and inclusion are already built into our foundations and our 10 year Diversity and Inclusion strategy, agreed in 2016, has established a set of priorities that we are already working on. ^Sophie

  13. Could the Noma plan have benefited the area and community further, if housing cooperatives rather than ready to purchase apartments been built.

    • Hi coop colleagues will this question be put to Steve. Thanks

      • Hi Emma, I’m really interested in your question actually as I know that the ‘model’ for the apartments being built as part of NOMA (which, bear in mind, isn’t a wholly owned Co-op thing – we’re just a partner in it) does have a different model to the ‘norm’. I couldn’t confidently say what it is, but I’ll ask. As for which questions are put to Steve… I’ll be looking at all the ones form here and from Facebook next week and will put a selection of the most common ones to him for the video. But as with the last series on ‘community’ questions, I hope to get answers back to everyone for all the questions raised. Thanks, ^Kevin

  14. At the next AGM will you ask members whether we should support / donate money to political parties *at all*, rather than how much we should support them?
    If not, why not?

  15. Why don’t we support the movement and the idea of Co-operatives as an valuable form of organisation in more visible, more modern ways?

    When we do charity volunteering why aren’t we helping people form Co-operatives or, as an organisation supporting education about Co-operatives more strongly and more accessibly?

    You could argue that’s not our job but we don’t work very publicly with the Co-op college considering they are only blocks down the street from 1 AS

    Why don’t we advertise “sourced from a Co-op” on products we sell ? It’s the Argentinian Malbec debate all over again I suppose – we’re still rubbish at talking up the good we do.

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CEO message, Co-operative movement, Uncategorized