Sir, I was struck by the recent Grocer article which covered the co-op renaissance (27 April). In the aftermath of the 2013 /14 crisis, we rightly had to re-evaluate our ambition and how the high expectations of our 4.5 million members could be met. There was some soul-searching, but we also had the benefit of re-examining our proud past and the opportunity to restore the Co-op purpose, created by 28 pioneers from Rochdale in 1844.
The response from our business areas (food, funeralcare, insurance, legal and health) and our 64,000 colleagues has been amazing. I feel very proud to lead a business which once again balances appropriately the need to marry commercial success with the need to deliver sustainable member and social value for local communities. This Co-op difference is once again informing our decision making, from the markets we choose to operate in, to the products and services we offer, through to the campaigns we embark upon.
People are coming our way because they realise in today’s uncertain world that this approach - co-operating to get things done - is more relevant than ever. They can see that the value we generate is being used to improve their lives and the places where they live.
The first Co-op shop opened in Rochdale 175 years ago. Co-operation has stood the test of time and it has a vibrant and successful future ahead of it. We are certainly not complacent and must maintain our focus, but I am firmly in the camp that believes the best is yet to come.
Steve Murrells, CEO, Co-op