Live: Co-op Group 2018 annual meeting

Catch up with our coverage of the annual meeting live from Manchester

19 May 2018 8:30 am
Latest update 4 years ago
Allan Leighton sums it up nicely...

"We have to be relevant for the world we live in - and the word 'relevant' has never felt more vital than now"

People power

Helen Webb, chief people officer, says the ‘stronger co-op, stronger communities’ initiative has seen the Co-op launched two new colleague networks alongside Respect (LGBTQ) and Aspire (for women) - the Rise Network (for BAME colleagues) and Youth Network (for young colleagues).

The Co-op 'virtuous circle'

Steve Murrells is now introducing the idea of the co-operative ‘virtuous circle’ - and how the idea of a ‘stronger co-op, stronger communities’ is influenced by and impacts:


- involved members

- active communities

- proud colleagues

- happy customers

- and thriving partners


“We have to make sense of the co-operative idea for our customers, whichever society they shop at.”

And finally...

Motion 10: Co-op Party funding. The motion seeks approval for political expenditure not exceeding £750,000 for the year commencing 1 January 2019. Carried with 79.38% of the vote.


Motion 11 – plastic recycling. Carried with 99.06% of the vote.


Motion 12 is a members’ motion on responsible advertising submitted by Colin Baines, a former ethics adviser and campaigns manager for the Co-op Group, and non-executive director of Stop Funding Hate (SFH). Carried with 96% of the vote.

Voting continues...

Motion 4: To re-elect Ian Ellis as an executive director. Carried with 95.99% of the vote.

Motion 5: To re-elect Lord Victor Adebowale as an independent non-executive director. Carried with 93.17% of the vote.

Motion 6: To re-elect Simon Burke as an independent non-executive director. Carried with 95.37% of the vote.


Motion 7: To re-elect Stevie Spring as an independent non-executive director. Carried with 95.72% of the vote.


Motion 8: To re-appoint Ernst & Young LLP as our auditors and authorise the Risk and Audit Committee to fix their remuneration. Carried with 94.6% of the vote.


Motion 9: to approve changes to the Group’s rules (needs two-thirds majority). These will simplify processes to remove dormant or absent members, who have not traded with the Group for the past three years. It is also proposed to move to maximum terms of office of nine years – from the current maximum of six – for both member nominated director and independent non-executive directors on what will generally be a three year cycle. If the rule changes are approved, they will apply to the 2018 elections. Carried with 88.91% of the vote.


Now the voting...


Motion 1: To receive the Annual Report and Accounts for the period ended 6 January 2018. Carried with 98.19% of the vote.


Motion 2: To approve the Directors’ Remuneration Report for the period ended 6 January 2018. Carried with 88.34% of the vote.


Motion 3: To approve a change in the executive remuneration policy. Carried with 84.13% of the vote.

Member questions

Some good questions coming out at the AGM


Why hasn’t the Co-op Group banned plastics? “We don’t want to leap to the headline of ‘banning’ as there would be worse consequences down the line” said Steve Murrells. “Banning plastic material before we find a replacement would lead to more waste. Where we can make the change, we have.”


The Member Pioneer for Chorlton, Manchester, raised the point that a Co-op store in Manchester is attacked, on average, every 6.5 days - and says that staff and customer safety should be a performance measure. Chair Allan Leighton responded that this is something that worries the board and is a top priority. (Co-incidentally, Co-op News is looking at this very issue in our next edition).


Another member asks how the number of Member Pioneers - which stands at around 200 - will reach the targeted 1500 by 2020. Steve Murrells said he was “very hopeful” to have that number against the timeline set and suggests that some colleagues “may take up some of that slack”.

Members' Council

President of the National Members' Council, Nick Crofts, welcomed the 11 new Council representatives. 150 members stood for election this year, and results were out a few days ago:


We also recently interviewed Nick - read it in the Co-op News magazines on the tables at the AGM, or online at


Interesting numbers from @steviespring1 at #coopagm: every 1.5p of pay rise per person costs the organisation over £1m in profit. There will be an investment of £15.6m for front line store colleague pay in 2018, minimum wage at @CoopUK now over £8/hour.


She also highlighted how when Steve Murrells stepped up as CEO last year he took no pay rise. Unlike at many competitors, frontline colleagues get paid breaks and under-25s get the same pay as everyone else. “This underline how the Co-op’s values are put into practice,” she said.

Ethical advertising

Steve also talked about the issue of responsible advertising, which is being addressed in a motion later on. There’s some background on this here:


“The Daily Mail has actually been our biggest supporter for plastics and modern slavery … they’re the loudest voice with the greatest reach on these issues and we’d be foolish to not take this seriously.”

The Group is going to use its ad spend to face this, he said, challenging the readers of the Daily Mail and others, many of whom are also Co-op members and customers.

“A co-operative response to what we stand with and what we stand for.”


“It’s unbelievable that nearly a third of the food produced around the world doesn’t get eaten. At the coop we’re committed to tackling food waste and helping families affected by austerity” - Steve Murrells talks more about the food redistribution scheme announced last week.

More info on that here:

Group update

Back to CEO Steve Murrells, who addresses the issue of the Group’s investigation by the Groceries Code Adjudicator, fairtrade and local produce.

“Now in every county we’re working with local butchers, bakers, brewers and ice cream makers. We don’t require exclusivity because we want to see these small businesses grow.” 

'Solid Numbers'

Chief finance officer, Ian Ellis is now introducing the accounts:

“This is a good set of solid numbers, a great performance. Profits are up and debt is down”

MND elections

Co-op Group chair Allan Leighton has just opened the AGM and announced the results of the member-nominated director elections.

Congratulation to Hazel Blears and Margaret Casely-Hayford, who have both been re-elected!

Welcome to Manchester!

We're at Manchester Central today for the Co-op Group AGM. A beautiful day for it - and the market place is looking great. Lots of information about different areas of the organisation - including Insurance, Funeralcare, the Respect Network and the National Members' Council... There's even an ice cream van.

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