Challenges remain for all in to the future, says Co-op

15 May 2021

The Co-op doesn’t consider its efforts to support members, colleagues and communities through Covid as finished, or ‘job done’ according to its CEO. Steve Murrells announced that he expected that ‘the future will present [the Co-op] with many more challenges’ as part of today’s AGM.

He explained to those members following the meeting online that the pandemic had highlighted ‘challenges exposed, challenges that never went away [and] challenges that were created.’

The Co-op is now considering not just how it can help efforts to build back better, but rather how it can build back ‘different’, as communities face into changes caused by the pandemic.

From Murrells’ speech today: “The challenges we as a nation face locally, nationally and internationally are crying out for businesses with purpose baked into their DNA.

“I’m sure like me, in many different ways, you’ve witnessed a surge in community solidarity and a sense that we have a duty towards each other in our neighbourhoods and wider communities.

“As a co-op, our lifeblood is the understanding that the world should, and can be, a better place for everyone. Our vision of ‘Co-operating for a Fairer World’, has never been more appropriate and timely for the world we face into – and I am determined that, together, we will deliver it.”

In the context of the Co-operating for a Fairer World vision – with ambitions to make things fairer for colleagues; members & communities and the planet – members heard more about Co-op efforts to address climate change and drive social mobility through their youth; food access and mental wellbeing initiatives as part of today’s meeting.

This included the introduction of the Real Living Wage last month, a new Apprenticeship levy sharing scheme closing an ‘opportunity gap’ for under-represented social groups and a pledge to match prices from the Co-op’s plant-based GRO range to meat-based equivalents.

In his address, Chairman Allan Leighton said: “The pandemic, which has lasted over a year now, has presented us with a unique set of business challenges and community needs. These have demonstrated just how much we, as a Co-operative, can make a real difference.”

Following the Co-op’s commitment to be a Net Zero business by 2040, with carbon reduction plans for both operations (50% by 2025) and products (11% by 2025), a motion, proposed by Co-op’s Members’ Council seeking greater education for members and customers on the carbon impact of products and environmentally sustainable diets was passed overwhelmingly.

As was a further motion from the National Members’ Council to empower people through education and employment opportunities; help ensure access to food for all and to challenge the Government to address these issues.

A motion was also passed supporting a modern and inclusive Co-operative movement, working with and supporting other co-operatives to further realise the ‘Co-operating for a Fairer World’ vision.

Provisional voting results – final results to be published on Monday 17 May on coop.co.uk/agm

Motions

1 - To receive the Annual Report and Accounts for the period ended 2 January 2021

Carried; For: 98.24%, Against: 1.76%

2 - To approve the Directors’ Remuneration Report for the period ended 2 January 2021

Carried; For: 88.56%, Against: 11.44%

3 - To re-appoint Ernst and Young LLP as our auditors and authorise the Risk and Audit Committee to fix their remuneration

Carried; For: 95.48%, Against: 4.52%

4 - Joint Board and Council Motion – Political Donations

Carried; For: 78.33%, Against: 21.67%

5 - Board Motion – Supporting a Modern and Inclusive Co-operative Movement

Carried; For: 98.07%, Against: 1.93%

6 - Council Motion - Sustainable Production and Consumption

Carried; For: 98.62%, Against: 1.38%

7 - Council Motion - Inequality and Food Poverty

Carried; For: 97.88%, Against: 2.12%

8 - ISMs Motion - Co-operative Sustainable Solutions

Carried; For: 98.26%, Against: 1.74%

9 - ISMs Motion - Funding for Co-op Press and Co-op College

Carried; For: 88.59%, Against: 11.41%

Results for the election of Member Nominated Directors

Kate Allum: Successful
(Sandra Campopiano: Unsuccessful, Wendy Barnes: Unsuccessful)

ENDS

About the Co-op:

The Co-op is one of the world’s largest consumer co-operatives with interests across food, funerals, insurance and legal services. Owned by over 4 million UK consumers, the Co-op operates 2,600 food stores, over 800 funeral homes and provides products to over 5,100 other stores, including those run by independent co-operative societies and through its wholesale business, Nisa Retail Limited.

Employing over 63,000 people, the Co-op has an annual turnover of £11.5 billion. As well as having clear financial and operational objectives, the Co-op is a recognised leader for its social goals and community-led programmes. The Co-op exists to meet members’ needs and stand up for the things they believe in.

For more information contact: Tom Cooledge, tom.cooledge@coop.co.uk, 07773 097060