AS the Movement prepares for Congress 2007 in a few weeks’ time, delegates will reflect that the pace of change in the retail sector since last year’s gathering in Manchester has been simply breathtaking.
A year ago, progress towards a single society was still one Chief Executive’s personal view of how the Movement could survive and prosper in 21st century Britain. Now — while a single society is still an aspiration, rather than a racing certainty — the imminent amalgamation of the Co-operative Group and United Co-operatives takes us a long way down that route.
And, typically, new Group Chief Executive-elect Peter Marks has wasted no time in putting his own imprint on the newly enlarged society by refreshing the New Century House executive with an infusion of some of his tried and trusted lieutenants from United.
Clearly, Mr Marks plans to hit the ground running when he takes over from Martin Beaumont and his pledge to create one business in one year will certainly make for an interesting and hectic 12 months.
While the speed of the announcement of the managerial changes may have taken some observers by surprise, it was a natural follow-on from the merger and Mr Mark’s appointment as Chief Executive that he would bring some of his top team with him.
After all, it’s what all newly-appointed football managers do. Now, continuing the soccer analogy, Mr Marks’ target is surely to get the Group and the Movement into the retail Premier League.
The dawn of a new era for co-operative retailing? Let’s hope so.