I'm sure Liberal Democrat MP Alan Beith, with his criticism of the Co-operative Group, is well meaning in his retail innocence and is not vote-catching by waving his anti-monopoly banner ('Monopoly - or just doing good business?', The Grocer, 30 June, p29). If he had voiced his views to the Co-op and listened to an explanation, he may have kept his foot in his shoe, rather than in his mouth. In many UK locations two or more unprofitable c-stores operate where, in reality, one ­quality convenience store is the answer. It is better to have one viable unit providing staff with a decent wage and quality working environment - as well as giving the community reasonable prices - than two or three poor units struggling to survive and potentially leaving the community with no store at all. I worked for the Co-op as acquisitions manager, and, whatever the Co-op is or is not, it has more ethical principles than all the grocery giants put together. It at least pays very good will for its acquisitions whereas others arrive and bankrupt the independent sector. The Co-op is an important voice in the return on investment wilderness. It'll do for me.

Topics