Co-op members asked to vote in the run-up to AGM

The Co-operative Group is inviting members to help shape the business by voting on motions put to its annual general meeting, the election of member nominated directors (MNDs)...

The Co-operative Group is inviting members to help shape the business by voting on motions put to its annual general meeting, the election of member nominated directors (MNDs) and local representatives for the members’ council. The Co-op is issuing voting packs for its over two million members.

The Group’s board includes four member nominated directors (MNDs) to represent ordinary members. Their role includes helping to set the business strategy, overseeing commercial and financial performance, and ensuring co-operative values and principles remain at the heart of their co-op. The positions currently up for election are occupied by Paul Chandler and Ruth Spellman, who were elected in May 2015. Ms Spellman is not running for re-election.

The three candidates standing for the two member nominated directors positions are Paul Chandler, an existing member nominated director, Pernilla Bonde and Gareth Thomas.

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Paul Chandler was one of the first MNDs to be elected under the Group’s new governance structure in 2015. A former chief executive of Traidcraft, Mr Chandler has over 25 years of chief executive and non-executive experience in business, financial services and good governance. If elected, he aims to focus on empowering and rewarding colleagues to serve members well, further improving the sustainability and ethics of the business, and re-engaging with the wider co-operative movement and building local structures to connect with members and their communities.

Pernilla Bonde is chief executive of HSB, Sweden’s largest housing co-operative, with 600,000 members and a turnover of £800m. She believes the board can play a key role in ensuring that members get real economic value for their membership. Born in the UK, Ms Bonde has lived in the UK, Africa and Sweden. As a MND she would focus on good governance and an open and transparent dialogue with all members, expanding the range of Fairtrade food in Co-op stores and the needs of the next generation of young co-operators.

Gareth Thomas is a trustee of Tate and serves on the boards of various organisations in the not for profit sector. A former retail director of John Lewis for 10 years, he has had a 30-year career in the employee owned business. As a director, he was accountable to the employee-members through the businesses’ democratic structure. As an MND, Mr Thomas would work to champion the “co-op difference” and use his experience to represent members and colleagues.

Voting for both elections is open until midday on 15 May 2017. To qualify for voting members have to have traded over £250 with the Group.

For the AGM, the Co-op is asking members to vote on usual motions as well as motions relating to its Ethical Policy. These include a motion to reconfirm the Co-op’s commitment to Fairtrade, a motion to help raise awareness of modern slavery and a motion to address the Co-op’s position on recycling.

Allan Leighton, chair of the Co-op Group, said: “We are passionate about our democracy and getting more Co-op members voting at our AGM. Voting in the Co-op AGM means that members have a say over the future of their business.

“As a co-op we’re different to other businesses – our members, the people who shop with us, have a say in the way the business they use and own is run.”

Members have until 17 May to return their AGM voting packs. They can also vote on the AGM motions in person at the AGM in Manchester on 20 May.

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