THE Co-operative Group has announced radical plans to give its members a share of profits across its entire family of businesses for the first time.
In what is regarded as the largest ever re-statement of the co-operative difference, the Group – the UK's largest consumer-owned retailer with annual sales of almost £ 8 billion – is set to re-inforce its position as the UK's number one community provider.
The main developments are:
*For the first time, members will receive an annual share of the profits based on their trading with the Group's entire range of businesses including food stores, funeral homes, pharmacies and travel outlets as well as the Co-operative Bank and Co-operative Insurance (CIS).
*Members will be encouraged to support a social goals agenda that will collectively assert pressure for change on a range of contemporary issues including climate change and social exclusion.
*Members will have the opportunity to provide extra support to local projects by electing to donate all their share of profits to the Group's community dividend scheme which distributes grants to community groups throughout the UK.
Group Chief Executive Martin Beaumont says the time is right to emphasise the personal and social rewards which arise from trading with The co-operative.
"There are millions of consumers across the UK who share our belief in self help, social responsibility and democracy and like us, are prepared to take a stand on consumer and social issues," he explained.
"At a time when communities are becoming increasingly dominated by a handful of large and impersonal businesses, we want to show UK consumers that there is a better alternative, one which is ultimately owned and controlled by them."
Becoming a member of the Co-operative Group costs just £ 1. Under the terms of the new profit share scheme, members will earn points on trade with all Group businesses.
These points will be converted into a share of the profits with payment being made twice a year in June and December. Because the payments are linked to the future profits of the Group, the value of the points will vary year on year.
*Further coverage in the next issue of Co-operative News – available from Tuesday September 5th.