By Martin Rogers, Head of New Channels

Well, what a year for Co-op Franchise! 

We’ve achieved so much since we started up a whole new channel for our Co-op, to help us reach new locations in a more agile way. We’ve grown into an award-winning nationwide business with more than 750 store colleagues, and 36 franchise stores across the UK, from Aberdeen to Bournemouth, Kent to Cornwall, Leeds to London, Stirling to Somerset and in all store formats that Co-op operates. 

We’re bringing the Co-op difference to communities and campuses up and down the country. And it’s great to be recognised by our industry – we recently picked up the Emerging Franchisor of the Year Award at the British Franchise Association (bfa) awards, which celebrates excellence in UK franchising. The judges were particularly impressed with our ethical focus, how we’ve supported partners and developed the business. 

It’s huge recognition for us, the franchise team, and our award highlights the passion we have for our brand and our values and principles. You can watch our video here. 

We couldn’t do this without support from colleagues across the Co-op, and I want to share this award with everyone who has helped us grow, learn and improve, as we’ve scaled from board paper to business in the last four years. We simply couldn’t do this without you. 

The award is the icing on the cake of what’s been an amazing year. We also opened our first service station store in Cornwall, and, in September, we opened our 10th student store at Keele. It’s a state-of-the-art shop on campus, and was one of our COP26 stores. We’re now serving over 200,000 students in franchise catchments, and it’s a great example of how franchise opens unique opportunities to engage customers and members who wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to shop with us without the flexibility of the franchise model. 

Our valued partners are critical to this, and are an extension of the Co-op family. They’re at the heart of their communities, just like our Co-op-owned stores, and have faced that same challenging landscape over the last 18 months.  I’m so proud of what the team and all our franchise partners have achieved.  They adapted quickly and stepped up to help those in need – they saw the role they had to play in ensuring no one went without food.

It’s that shared purpose, experience and passion that has made Co-op Franchise what it is today – a proven, scalable and ethical franchise model, ready to accelerate and create more value for Co-op.  

And for us, the most inspiring thing about franchising for Co-op is how co-operative it is – the power of partnership; supporting each other and working together, giving back to the communities we trade in and source from. And at Co-op we know that when we work together in this way, great things can happen.