In recent years the Co-op has gone through some traumatic changes, but by embracing the changing consumer market and offering a relevant response to its needs, the Co-op is now back on its feet and more ambitious than ever, says Group CEO Steve Murrells. In his previous role as CEO of Co-op Food, Steve Murrells was responsible for introducing the new retail strategy focusing on convenience, and he turned around the business to increase its market share, returning its iconic blue clover leaf to the high street and boasting a presence in every postcode area in the country.
“The Co-op movement was born in the 19th century as a direct response to the first Industrial Revolution,” says Steve, Co-op Group CEO since March 2017. “In the 21st century we have to prove we’re still a relevant response to the challenges faced by our members and customers.”
For the Co-op, it has not been about closing a door on the past, but about adjusting its approach and retelling the story, once again finding an emotional and economic relevance with customers.
“Yes, we have embraced change, but we need to lead change too. In an age when trust is in such short supply and big business is held in such low esteem, the Co-op has an opportunity to tell a different story to the British public,” says Steve. “So we’re taking the best of our Co-op heritage and proving once again how we are a different and better way of doing business.”
The Group CEO also draws attention to the current political debate, and what politicians are proposing is the best way to run the economy - free market vs state - but, he says, the discussion is missing something vital.
“It’s called ‘co-operation’ and it’s a way of economic control and ownership that Britain has every right to be proud of. In the 19th century, it was an idea that became one of our nation’s greatest exports. The reason why the consumer co-op model went ‘viral’ through the middle of the 19th century and up to the mid-20th century was because we were addressing an unmet need in a way that gave people confidence and security and belief. And we created an emotional connection with our customers as well as an economic one.
The world is a better place when we cooperate. Co-ops can, and do, provide a unique way to generate value and build communities. So let’s not forget that there are other ways of doing business.”
Steve Murrells will be speaking as part of a collection of lectures on Friday 5th January. To hear more book your conference ticket today.
For more views from Steve Murrells, see the following links:
Water Poverty and The Co-op’s Values and Campaigning Heritage