In my role as an Independent Society Member (ISM) on our National Members’ Council representing Heart of England Co-op, it’s my job to be a voice for all our members, and the annual Co-operative Retail Conference allows me to do just that.

The conference, hosted by Co-operatives UK, is a meeting of over 100 co-operators to talk about issues the retail sector is facing. It’s a great opportunity to see the bigger picture within the industry, and bring real value to the way we develop ourselves to make sure our members are engaged and involved. It also helps us (as a collective of co-operators) work better together and get the most out of our roles to help shape our Co-op into a movement that we can all be proud of.

A highlight of the weekend for me was hearing ‘An American (grocery market) tale’ from our international guest, Stephen McDow. The conference is usually made up of UK co-ops so it was great to see how the co-operative way of doing business has been adopted overseas and is appealing to a younger generation – something that I’m keen for our Co-op to do to help us be a business that’s fit for the future. I also had the opportunity to present at this year’s conference too, leading a session on how we can evolve to support the changing needs of co-ops and members.

As colleagues and members, you’re in a unique position to have your say on what we do as a business and as a co-op, and we’d love to be a platform for your thoughts and ideas.

Please get in touch at

Nick Matthews
National Members’ Council
ISM for Heart of England Co-op

Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. I’ve been in touch with you three times now about the lack of recognition being given to the BAME international guest, Stephen McDow.

    It’s starting to look like you’re being intentionally obstructive by refusing to acknowledge the point

    You’re not using this opportunity to support the Co-op’s diversity and inclusion agenda.

    • Thanks for your comments. We’re sorry for the delay in getting back to you and appreciate your patience.

      The Co-operative Retail Conference is pulled together by Co-operatives UK. We shared the blog to give a flavour of the wider involvement our Council Members have across the co-operative movement and the opportunities they have to learn from others and network with co-operators from across the sector at this event. It brings together speakers from across the UK and internationally to give different insights into co-operative retailing through case studies and best practice sharing as well as innovation, new developments and debate. The presentations from across the weekend are available to download using this link –

      We champion diversity and it was great to hear from Stephen about all the brilliant work he’s been doing, which is what we highlighted in the blog. We welcome your feedback on including more about him and his influence as a role model and will take it on board. The photo chosen is of Nick Matthews, the author of the blog, at the conference; we unfortunately don’t have a photo of him and Stephen together or we would have used it.

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