Paul Chandler : Votes For 87.01% / Against 12.99% - Elected
Occupation: Chair of Boards Trade: Food, Bank
As former chief executive of Traidcraft, the pioneering fair trade organisation, and director of a range of mutual and charitable enterprises, I would bring to the Board my passion for promoting responsible and ethical business practices and a fairer society, underpinned by substantial commercial and financial services experience. I want to see the Co-op re-established as a successful and sustainable business that truly puts its members and customers first and demonstrates co-operative principles in action.
Election address The Co-operative Group has long held a proud and important place as a model of how to run a successful business in the interests of its customers and members. The troubles experienced in recent years have been significant, but do not change the inspirational nature of the vision and values for which The Co-op has been recognised for many generations. Our task now is to rebuild a business and movement that can be successful and sustainable – both in commercial terms and in its commitment to people and the environment.
As chief executive of Traidcraft, the leading fair trade organisation, I collaborated actively with The Co-op in bringing Fairtrade-marked products into mainstream retail channels and pioneering the extension of fair trade into new sectors. In partnership with small-scale producers in Africa, Asia and Latin America, often working as local co-operative enterprises, we successfully helped grow the scale of Fairtrade in the UK from some £50 million in 2001 to its present level of almost £1.7 billion. I remain actively involved in fair trade as a local activist and as a director of Shared Interest, a co-operative lending society that supports fair trade producers around the world. I would thus bring commercial experience and understanding of ethical trading to the deliberations of the Board.
Traidcraft is a prominent campaigner for responsible business practices, and we were influential in bringing pressure for the recent revision of the Groceries Code of Conduct and the establishment of a Supermarkets Adjudicator. My commitment to improving standards of business practice remains as strong as ever, and if elected to the Board of The Co-operative Group I would seek to promote the mutual interests of producers and customers through building long-term relationships in supply chains.
My role on the Board would be further enhanced by my understanding of the financial services sector. My early career in Barclays Bank laid the foundations for this, and in more recent years I have developed a professional involvement in ethical investment (as Chair of the William Leech Foundation) and in making mutual structures work in financial services (as a non-executive director of Engage Mutual, a life insurance mutual with some 500,000 customers and members). Being based in the North East makes me particularly aware of the challenges of financial exclusion and the importance of making affordable and straight-forward financial products available to all.
I am committed to serving local communities. A trustee of the County Durham Community Foundation, supporting local groups and individuals through small grants, I also chair the Council at Durham Cathedral and am active in my local church. Such activities further underpin my commitment to promoting a fairer society in this country: a goal to which The Co-operative Group has a vital and exciting contribution to make in the years ahead. I hope members will give me the opportunity to work for them and bring my particular mix of skills and experience to the renewal and strengthening of our Co-op.