HOPES that the new co-operative brand would be embraced quickly and enthusiastically by retail societies have been dealt a severe blow following Peter Marks' announcement at Congress that his society, United Co-operatives, will not be participating in the project.
So far, the reaction to the new-look unanimously approved by the board of the Co-operative Group – and also backed by Co-operative Financial Services and Midcounties Society – has been lukewarm, with a number of big societies saying the time is not ripe for the rebranding exercise envisaged, or that they will monitor progress and make a decision later.
The United Chief Executive told Congress 2006 in Manchester that the Brand Panel's recommendations would not work; that independent societies would "do their own thing" and that a single, national society is the only option if the Movement is to remain a major player in UK food retailing ten years from now.
The second biggest independent society in England, Midlands Co-op, and Scotland's biggest independent, Scotmid, are among those who have indicated to www.thenews.coop that implementing the brand proposals will not be a key priority.
Co-operative Group chairman Bob Burlton has expressed his disappointment at the reaction and declared: "It seems that we have not learned the lessons of CRTG (the Movement's food buying group) which has so clearly demonstrated the benefits of the sixth co-operative principle, ie: how much we all benefit if we agree to work together."
*Further coverage in the next issue of Co-operative News, which will be available immediately after the Bank Holiday weekend.