£70m shot in the arm for co-operative business model

16 February 2009

The mutual business model got a £70m shot in the arm today (16 February) when The co-operative officially launched its new brand with a high profile advertising campaign.

At a time when consumers are disillusioned with big business, The co-operative announced that it would be spending a record total of £70m this year in order to promote the benefits of its ethical approach to business.
The co-operative is a consumer-owned business that gives its three million members a democratic say in the way it is run and how its profits are distributed.

The co-operative is currently in the midst of a £1.5 billion re-branding exercise – the largest in UK corporate history. In the space of just two years it has refitted 60 per cent of its 4,300 outlets with the new look.

This evening (Monday) for the first time ever the commercial break in the middle of Coronation Street will be utilised nationally by a single advertiser when The co-operative kicks off its brand campaign with a 2½-minute version of its new commercial.

Bob Dylan has allowed his iconic “Blowin’ in the Wind” to form the soundtrack to the commercial which will be shown in cinemas as well as on TV. A series of complementary adverts will also appear in the national press. 

Chief Executive Peter Marks said: ”We believe there has never been a better time for the UK’s most ethical brand to promote itself.

”We are currently witnessing a renaissance of The co-operative. More than one million members have joined us since we re-introduced our famous dividend in 2006; our food business has enjoyed twelve successive quarters of like-for-like sales growth; we successfully merged with United Co-operatives in 2007 and the acquisition of Somerfield will be completed shortly.

“The winning combination of high quality shops and products, coupled with the increasing relevance of our ethical way of doing business, and the ability to benefit directly from trading with us, are the compelling reasons why thousands are joining us every month.

“That is why we believe this is exactly the right time to launch this high profile campaign which spells out how, when the benefits are passed around, The co-operative is good for everyone.”

Last year, The co-operative, which has interests in food, funerals, travel, pharmacy, motors, financial services and legal services polled its members so they could help it to decide the causes and campaigns that will be supported by The co-operative.

Following this consultation three themes have emerged which will be the focus of the Group’s community and campaigns work: Young People, Climate Change and International Development, all of which will be backed by £1m campaigns this year.

In each instance, co-operative solutions to problems will be prioritised. In the UK this will include everything from community-owned hydroelectric schemes to co-operative trust schools. Further afield, agricultural supply co-operatives will be supported so that small-scale growers can secure better prices and working conditions.