THE Co-operative Group has announced that two more independent societies have agreed to adopt ‘The Co-operative’ brand.
Lothian, Borders and Angus Co-op and Chelmsford Star become the second and third independents to sign up to the new look following Midcounties’ decision to embrace the brand almost two years ago.
Co-operative Trading Group Chief Executive Peter Marks told the News: “I am delighted that two more progressive societies are adopting ‘The Co-operative’ brand.
“Of course, there is far more to a brand identity than just the logo on our own label goods and the fascia outside an outlet. One of the main objectives of the re-branding is to improve the overall brand standards. The inconsistency of our brand has been a major failing for far too long. “
Lothian Borders and Angus is to re-brand all its 54 branches before the end of the year and Deputy Chief Executive Alan Little commented: “We believe ‘The Co-operative’ is the future and we are confident that the new look and the brand standards associated with it will drive our business forward.”
At Chelmsford, the decision to re-brand comes after the success of a pilot scheme at the society’s food store in Kings Road, Chelmsford.
Chief Executive Tony Gudgeon said: “Following the Kings Road refit we saw an 11 per cent increase in turnover and a 14 per cent rise in gross profits.
“We are now committed to rolling out the new branding on a progressive basis. We have already refitted two stores and are currently working on two more at East Tilbury and Braintree and we will have re-branded a further six stores by the end of the year.”
Meanwhile Midcounties Chief Executive Ben Reid confirmed his society’s commitment to the brand project.
He said: “We have already undertaken a successful 18-month brand pilot and have completed the first six months of rollout.
“I believe that the strong, national co-operative brand both protects our independence and gives us a position of strength in the market place.
“At Midcounties, we are already seeing re-branding both improving staff morale and having a positive effect on trading profits.”
As previously announced, the Co-operative Group plans to rebrand and refit a further 1,500 retail outlets at a cost of £200 million by the end of this year.
However it is understood that there are no moves by the biggest independent societies in England and Scotland — Midlands Co-op and Scotmid — to embrace the new branding.
Scotmid spokesman Malcolm Brown said a “subtle rebrand” was already underway which would see ‘Scotmid Co-op’ phased out and replaced by the wording ‘Scotmid co-operative.’
He commented: “It’s important to us to keep the Scotmid name — it’s a very powerful name in our trading area, but we have strengthened the co-operative link and think we actually have the best of both worlds.”
Mr Brown added that the society’s ‘Morning, Noon and Night’ chain of convenience stores would continue to trade under that name though the suffix “part of Scotmid co-operative” would eventually be added to all facia.