We stand apart from other major businesses in the UK as an organisation that is not owned by investor shareholders but by our members, who democratically control the business. During 2011 our membership increased from 5.8 million to 7.2 million, and members earned a £61.9m share of the profits (based on their trade in 2011).
Our long-standing commitment to supporting co-operatives saw us support almost 600 co-operatives in 2011 via The Co-operative Enterprise Hub, our flagship programme that provides free advice, training and access to finance.
We are one of the largest private sector employers in the UK and our employees are vital for our sustainable business success. In 2011, we launched Project Unity to bring together Trading and Banking Group businesses and develop new head office teams and functions. Customer satisfaction is a business priority. Across our Food, Bank, Pharmacy and Funeral businesses, we exceeded our customer satisfaction/advocacy targets in 2011 and also completed our rebranding programme, which we started in 2007, to build one long-term, unified identity for our different businesses and other co-operative societies.
Unusually for a large, commercial organisation, we run campaigns, which involve our members and customers and include a large element of public policy intervention.
Our Ethical Plan commitments include:
- Build membership to 20 million by 2020, with an interim target of 7.5 million by the end of 2012;
- Continue a member profit-sharing scheme that is among the broadest and most generous of any major UK business;
- Raise our investment in the United Nations Year of Co-operatives to £2m, seeking to help more people than ever understand the strength and benefits of the co-operative difference;
- Uniquely in the UK, continue to use our influence to campaign for a more equitable and sustainable world, engaging at least 500,000 members and customers per annum in our social goals and campaigning, and to always be open about such lobbying and its outcome; and
- Build a £20m Global Development Co-operative Loan Fund.
Read more about our Ethical Plan.