Co-op and Kent university union join forces to open two franchise stores

15 March 2019


Kent Union, the students’ union at The University of Kent, has joined forces with Co-op to transform the existing union stores – known as the SU Shop & SU Shop Park Wood - to better serve the university community, it has been announced today (Friday, 15 March).

The agreement is the Co-op’s first franchise store on campus in the South of England – and its second franchise on a University campus UK-wide. The move supports the Co-op’s ambition to get closer to communities and to where its members and customers live and work.

Expected to open by September, the new stores will offer Co-op’s full range of fresh, healthy foods, extended vegan and free-from products, Fairtrade produce, food-to-go, in-store bakery and, essentials.

The store is managed and run by Kent Union staff and its members providing employment opportunities for students - it will relaunch following major investment in order to deliver Co-op quality, value and values conveniently.

The Co-op gives TOTUM cardholders 10% discount off groceries, and brings funding boosts for local causes through its Membership scheme – Members receive a 5% reward on purchases of own-brand products, with the Co-op donating a further 1% to local causes.

Aaron Thompson, Union President and Chair of the Board of Trustees, said: “I’m really excited that Kent Union will be partnering with Co-op. One of the biggest pieces of feedback we get every year from students is that the prices in the shop are too high and i’m so happy we can finally address this issue. I believe that this partnership will offer Kent students better value for money, bigger product range and even bigger discounts! The Board of Trustees were happy to approve the change as the Co-op’s values align with Kent Union’s on being a sustainable organisation, passionate about the environment, and improving our links with the community on and off campus.”

Andrew Duffield, Head of Retail – who has managed the SU Shop for the last two years, said: “This is a really exciting partnership, and I am privileged to be involved in the project. Our new Co-op store will see an even larger product range offered in store which will complement the great discount opportunities for students. The store will be completely transformed and given a well needed face-lift, really improving the shopping experience for our customers. As part of the refurbishment we will be introducing at least 15 self-scan tills reducing the queuing times. This partnership also allows us to benefit from greater operational efficiencies, which will support stronger product availability, and a larger focus on customer service.”

Martin Rogers, Co-op’s Head of New Channels, said: “This is an important development for Co-op. Franchise stores provide an exciting opportunity to grow our brand and generate mutual value with our partners. At the heart of the Co-op it is about connecting communities, bringing people together and making a difference. We have a long-standing partnership with NUS and so this relationship with Kent Union is a natural progression. An exciting opportunity to grow our brand together, and make more of our products available in the community. The new Canterbury campus store will have the range, choice, ease and convenience tailored to serve campus needs – we look forward to working closely with Kent Union and serving the needs of the campus community.”

Employing students remains a key priority for Kent Union, helping fund their studies and develop key skills that will support students in the job market when they graduate. Kent Union employs around 600 students each year, putting almost £1m back into students pockets annually. Kent Union is also a nationally recognised and award winning employer, having been in the Sunday Times 100 Best not-for-profit Organisations to Work For List on 10 occasions.

Further information about the benefits of Co-op Membership is available by visiting

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Further information
Andrew Torr
Co-op Press Office
M: 07702505551