Clydebank Co-operative is entering a supply agreement with Glasgow-based wholesaler JW Filshill, bringing to an end its 10-year arrangement with the Co-operative Retail Trading Group (CRTG). It is the first co-op to withdraw from the co-operative movement’s buying group, which previously controlled 100% of Co-op food buying in the UK.
Last September, Clydebank opened its first jointly branded Clydebank Co-operative Society/KeyStore store in Glasgow’s West End. A supply and fascia rollout to Clydebank’s remaining five food outlets began this month and will continue throughout the year.
Robert Sider, chief executive of Clydebank Co-operative, said: “We’ve enjoyed an excellent relationship with the Co-operative [CRTG], but we’re operating in an extremely challenging marketplace and believe that our stores will be in a much stronger position going forward if we have more flexibility when it comes to promotions and sourcing products.”
Mr Sider said Clydebank Co-operative, with six food stores within a two-mile radius, had unique needs. He said that, on issues like price marked packs (PMPs) of cigarettes, the CRTG was not able to react flexibly enough. “We’ve been banging on about this for about a year,” he said. “Everyone else around here was selling PMPs. To be fair to the CRTG, they’re doing it now, but it came a bit too late for us.”
He added that the store had stocked between 97% and 99% CRTG products. “We were playing the game, but there were too many products that we really shouldn’t have been accommodating and that were taking up space that local produce should have been taking.
“Our jointly branded Clydebank Co-operative Society/KeyStore in Knightswood is performing ahead of targets, confirming that the wider product choice and access to more local and Scottish lines is striking a chord with consumers.”
But Roger Grosvenor, executive officer for East of England Co-op, said his society had been able to include over 130 local suppliers and more than 2,000 local products within the CRTG framework. “It’s extremely disappointing that a co-op has chosen to remove itself from what is a strong collective buying group,” he said. “We’ve seen a 31% increase in demand for our locally sourced range over the last year, so we feel we’re getting the balance right.”
Mr Sider said Clydebank needed to modernise. “We’re a fiercely independent co-operative society,” he said. “By forging this partnership, we’ll rejuvenate our stores and, at the same, further modernise the Clydebank Co-operative. This is a bold move on our part but absolutely the right one at this point in time.
“The company’s vast knowledge and experience of the convenience sector will help us transform our stores into cutting-edge convenience outlets that sit right in the heart of their communities. This is a wholesaler that’s always looking ahead to the next innovation in convenience retailing and we very much want to be part of that evolution.”
Simon Hannah, managing director of JW Filshill, added: “The convenience marketplace is fast-paced and exciting but it’s also extremely challenging. Our depth of experience and access to groundbreaking technology as well as a comprehensive range of convenience and Scottish product lines will help Clydebank Co-operative grow and develop its food business. It’s a partnership we’re very excited about.”
A spokesman for CRTG said: “While CRTG is disappointed with Clydebank’s decision, we fully understand their reasons and wish them all the very best for the future.”
In this article
- chief executive
- Clydebank Co
- Clydebank Co-operative Society
- Clydebank Co-operative Society/KeyStore store
- Co-op Atlantic
- Consumer cooperative
- food buying
- food outlets
- food stores
- JW Filshill
- Retail Trading Group
- Robert Sider
- Roger Grosvenor
- Simon Hannah
- The Co-operative brand
- Marie-Claire Kidd
- United Kingdom