The retailer said it would improve ranging, stock holding, availability and forecasting

The Co-op has launched the first phase of its “biggest-ever transformation programme” as it seeks to boost efficiency and unleash greater growth potential.

A technology overhaul that’s been three years in planning would better equip the retailer for its “ambitious growth strategy”, according to a spokesman.

The Co-op’s Retail Business Transformation (RBT) programme was using new technology to better support stores and suppliers and improve the shopping experience.

The spokesman called it “the biggest transformation programme the convenience store retailer has ever undertaken”, saying it would improve ranging, stock holding, availability and forecasting.

New systems include a cloud-based “supplier collaboration portal” called Co-op Connect.

The new systems launched this week as a pilot involving 24 stores, 15 suppliers and about 300 SKUs, across categories including soft drinks, salads, paper, pizza and beer. The suppliers include Coca-Cola European Partners, Heineken, Agrial Fresh Produce, Bakkavor Pizza & Bread, and Kimberly-Clark.

“The RBT programme is an integral part of Co-op’s ongoing success, as we look to ensure that the technology we are using will future-proof the business for many years to come,” said Co-op chief commercial officer Michael Fletcher.

“This pilot will allow us to work with suppliers to ensure that it is working perfectly before we roll it out elsewhere, and we are already getting positive feedback that the new portal is faster and easier to navigate.

“Investing in new technology will allow us to grow the business, helping to deliver a stronger Co-op that will result in stronger communities.”