East of England 
 Co-operative 

Annual report 2022

Our co-op has flourished in our region for over 150 years and here we are, still standing strong, serving our members, customers and communities.

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A message from our President

It's clear that co-operation and
co-operative values and principles
remain as relevant as ever.

Thank you to Roger

Following 50 years of dedicated service to the co-operative movement, Joint Chief Executive Roger Grosvenor retired in March 2022.

Roger pioneered several fantastic initiatives – many of which have been adopted across the food retail industry, including the multi-award winning Sourced Locally range, as well as sustainable innovations such as 'Co-op Guide to Dating' and the removal of single-use plastic shopping bags.

Roger Grosvenor
Colleague with flowers

Thank you to our colleagues

Whilst we learn to live and work alongside Covid-19, it's important to acknowledge and thank our colleagues for their unwavering support over the past twelve months.

Our colleagues have continued to work incredibly hard to keep our members and customers safe, often covering at their neighbouring stores to ensure we could continue to provide essential services to our communities.

Introducing 'Our Co-op'

After two years of development and collaboration with members, customers and colleagues, this year we launched our new business plan – 'Our Co-op'.

Our co-op has flourished in our region for over 150 years and here we are, still standing strong, serving our members, customers and communities. We truly have a heritage to be proud of, but we've never rested on our laurels. We've continued to move and adapt with the times, to stay strong and relevant.

We have a spirit of resilience and continued improvement and it's this that sits at the heart of our new 'Our Co-op' plan. It binds our history, our present and our future together and is all about growth, progress and striving to be the very best we can be.

'Our Co-op' identifies our strengths and the many opportunities that lie ahead. It recognises the ambitions that drive us and is true to our principles.

The 'Our Co-op' plan champions our independent co-op as a better kind of business. It recognises our achievements to date and builds on them, setting an ambitious vision to be the most valued organisation in the East of England.

The plan will guide every decision we make in the days, weeks and months ahead and is reflected in the way in which our annual report is structured.

Defining our values

Building on the founding co-operative values, we've defined four new values that underpin Our Co-op. Over time, our Objectives will evolve, and our Strategies will develop, but our Values will remain unchanged.

Do the right thing

This value reminds us of where we've come from and why we're here. It celebrates and helps us to build upon our unique past and gives us the authority to put doing the right thing first. We'll make decisions that help to save our planet, and work hard to show we can be trusted to do the right thing for the wider community.

Unstoppable

This value unleashes our potential, to lead change in a way that's exciting. We'll embrace change, challenge norms and have the courage, and permission, to try and fail and learn from our mistakes.

Stronger together

By harnessing the talents and energy of our co-op and the communities around us, we can make a greater impact and enjoy the benefits of being a co-operative.

A place for people to grow

It's important that we help every one of our colleagues to expand their knowledge, skills and experience, to help achieve their full potential. We want our colleagues to be excited to continuously learn, share new ideas, and be we rewarded for their effort and positive impact.

Launch

Ambassadors

We began sharing our Our Co-op plan with over 425 managers in May. We also took the opportunity to reach out to our colleagues to ask them to volunteer as an 'Our Co-op Ambassador'.

During the summer our Ambassadors attended training sessions, preparing them to deliver face-to-face workshops to all our colleagues, introducing them to Our Co-op and in particular our Values. Throughout September, October and November, our Our Co-op Ambassadors led 173 workshops across nine venues.

At these workshops we encouraged colleagues to share their thoughts, feelings, ideas and opinions, to help us create an Unstoppable team that's Stronger Together. The response generated was phenomenal, with over 10,000 pieces of feedback gathered. These workshops have without doubt been one of the most successful internal events we've ever undertaken as a business and have been pivotal to the successful launch of Our Co-op.

Governing the East of England Co-op

The Board of Directors is responsible for determining the objectives, strategy and policy of our co-op in conjunction with the collegiate Leadership team, who are collectively responsible for the day-to-day management of the East of England Co-op.

Advice on governance matters is provided in the first instance by the Secretary, with further professional support available from Co-operatives UK and external lawyers as appropriate.

During the year covered by this report, your Directors met formally 12 times to consider items of policy and strategy and all matters reserved from the Board.

The Leadership team

Day-to-day management of our co-op is delegated by the Directors to the collegiate Leadership team, which is responsible for implementing our strategy within the framework laid down by the Board. The Leadership team also provides advice and guidance on strategic and commercial matters helping the Directors to perform their strategic role.

Leadership team as of 22nd January 2022

  • Doug Field, Joint Chief Executive – Finance, Technology & HR
  • Niall O'Keeffe, Joint Chief Executive – Membership & Marketing
  • Nick Denny, Joint Chief Executive – Property
  • Roger Grosvenor, Joint Chief Executive – Retail
  • Jonathan Carey - Society Secretary
Leadership team

Board of Directors

In 2021, 10 candidates stood for election to fill four vacancies on the Board of Directors at the Annual Members' Meeting (AMM). At the AMM in May 2021, John Cook and Judi Newman were re-elected to the Board and Joy Burnford and Esme Cole were each elected for their first term in office.

Directors as of 22nd January 2022

Building our fanbase

'Your Co-op Live'

The past year has seen the launch of our brand-new series of interactive live shows, Your Co-op Live. We started them during the pandemic to engage with and support our members and customers. So far, we have held five events which have been streamed from a number of locations across the region.

Each show is themed around a different subject, from all things food, to wellbeing or celebrating life. Expert speakers and special guests join us for each event and we also run things like cookery demos, Q&As and lively discussions.

Everyone who joins an event has the chance to receive a small token of thanks from us, whether that's a treat box of Sourced Locally products or money-off vouchers to spend in store. Since the first Your Co-op Live event we've seen attendance increase by a phenomenal 350%, and we're looking forward to continuing the series in the coming year.

Your Co-op Live - you can watch all previous episodes here.

www.eastofengland.coop/community/your-co-op-live-series.

People chatting on a sofa Chef cooking in a garden

Member Perks

In December, we launched our 'Member Perks' scheme, offering exclusive money-saving offers to our members. Our members are central to our business and we could not exist without them - so these rewards are yet another benefit to being part of the East of England Co-op family.

Offers range from money-off local attractions and discounts on eating out, to reductions on gym memberships and magazine subscriptions. Previous perks have included half price admission to Banham Zoo and Africa Alive, and 10% off bookings at Go Ape.

The launch of the scheme also saw a surge in member sign-ups, showing real consumer demand for these kinds of rewards. We'll be refreshing our perks throughout the year, offering a continuous stream of discounts from a range of local partner brands.

Feeding a giraffe at Banham Zoo
Number of new members this year:
13,401

Customer satisfaction survey

This year we launched a new customer survey - 'How did we do?', helping us to better understand what our customers think about us and what we can do better. Launching in October 2021, so far almost 1 in 4 (23%) customers have completed the email survey after visiting one of our stores.

Our colleagues are able to track their store's progress via an online feedback portal, helping them to identify where they can improve to ensure they're giving their customers the very best service.

So far, we've found that around 60% of our customers are pleased with their overall experience, which is fantastic news. But there are always aspects that can be improved – so we'll be working hard to drive this score up over the coming year and ensure we're giving our customers more of what they want from us.

How did we do?

Improving the daily lives of our colleagues

Our Co-op your voice

Our Co-op, Your Voice survey

Top line results

In November we undertook a brand-new, company-wide colleague survey called 'Our Co-op, Your Voice' to give us a more detailed insight into how our colleagues feel about working for us.

Our overall engagement score was 75%, which tells us a good majority of our colleagues feel connected to us and satisfied that we have created a supportive workplace where they're able to thrive. More than 75% of colleagues feel that we do everything we can to make our customers and members feel valued.

Colleagues feel that we have a culture of fairness and inclusion where everybody is welcomed and respected, and understand how their work and performance helps us move forward.

Our colleagues feel trusted to come to work and get on with the job, and 93% say they are clear about what is expected of them. A positive team spirit was also noted. 75% of colleagues said they work within teams where colleagues help each other out, and their team is the biggest reason why they continue working for us.

Suffolk Mind partnership

Our partnership with Suffolk Mind

In 2021 we established a ground-breaking wellbeing partnership with Suffolk Mind. The pandemic impacted mental health and wellbeing for many people, and we wanted to make sure we were offering the right support to our colleagues.

We now have a Wellbeing Programme Manager who is helping us to embed Suffolk Mind's principles within our organisation. They are also delivering training to line managers, giving them the confidence and tools to support their teams.

Ultimately, we want to become the best retail organisation for talking about and taking care of mental health, and improve the wellbeing and daily lives of our colleagues.

Laura Stiff, Colleague Engagement Manager
Suffolk Mind Partnership

Onboarding

Welcoming new colleagues

First impressions count, so we've invested in new resources to further enhance the start of a new colleague's journey with us.

We've developed the 'Onboarding Your New Colleague' programme for our managers, and the 'Welcome to Our Co-op' curriculum for new starters, which ensures we communicate everything about who we are, from our values to our culture, right from the start.

It also features a live online 'welcome webinar' jointly hosted by our learning and development team and a senior manager, which has seen over 100 colleagues attend to date. We're all about our people, and their experience matters, right from day one.

Comments on the 'welcome webinar'

"I felt like part of the family"

"Refreshing and friendly, ambitious, supportive, lively, farsighted, inclusive."

Learning opportunities

Apprenticeships

Our learning and development offering continues to go from strength to strength, providing structured learning pathways for our colleagues. Now in its sixth year, our Apprenticeship Programme has supported more than 150 colleagues to date, through schemes in areas including accountancy, leadership and HR.

In the last year, we've added apprenticeships in PR and communications and learning and development to our offering, and have welcomed 27 colleagues onto our programmes.

Our colleagues have flourished as a result, such as Food Branch Manager Jonnie Gilbert, who is completing a management apprenticeship and was named 'Business and Management Apprentice of the Year' by West Suffolk Business College, and Lewis Upson, who is completing a level 4 PR & Communications apprenticeship and was responsible for securing record attendance at an episode of 'Your Co-op Live', our interactive live shows for members.

Alongside our apprenticeships, we proudly support colleagues with a wealth of learning opportunities through the Hive learning portal, offering interactive content on how to do the job, as well as personal and professional development, delivered both virtually and face to face.

Not only is Lewis an integral part of our team, he's enthusiastic and a quick learner, and we value his opinion. I think the apprenticeship has been the making of Lewis; he's well respected within our co-op and I am incredibly proud of him and what he's achieving.

Lynn Warner, Line Manager to Lewis Upson
Apprenticeships
55%

achieved Distinctions this year

69

colleagues have joined our apprenticeship programme

76%

pass rate vs National average of 55%