Collaboration will help consumer co-operatives win market share

Retail co-operatives must unite to “overcome structural disadvantage and regain market share,” according to the head of a co-operative grocery body in the US. Ahead of a meeting...

Retail co-operatives must unite to “overcome structural disadvantage and regain market share,” according to the head of a co-operative grocery body in the US.

Ahead of a meeting in Stratford-upon-Avon later this month, Robynn Shrader, chief executive of National Co-op Grocers, said: “In the UK, co-operatives appear to be struggling to maintain pace with mainstream competitors. Strained for both time and money, consumers are now preferring big-brand discount retailers and convenience stores over local co-operatives.”

Ms Shrader, who is also president of Consumer Cooperatives Worldwide, added: “In both the UK and the US, co-operatives must come together to overcome structural disadvantage and regain market share. This can be accomplished by finding ways to collaborate as a system on creating new stores; facilitating mergers and acquisitions; expanding programs to share fixed overheads; while continuing to find new ways to drive sales.”

She will appear at the National Retail Consumer Conference, organised by Co-operatives UK, along with New York-based data experts CoMetrics.

NCG represents 143 co-ops that report combined annual sales of more than $1.7bn, which attributes its ability to collaborate through use of the CoMetrics platform that gives co-ops the ability to collaborate at a different level while managing risk, benchmarking performance, and fostering peer learning

Tim Ferguson, acting CEO at CoMetrics, commented: “Retail food co-operatives in the US and UK appear to be losing market share, over the medium-term, to their mainstream competitors. To combat the increased competition, natural food co-operatives in the US are banding together with a shared data platform to build strength across the sector.

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“By aggregating information, these co-operatives are able to see themselves in the context of their peers, share best practices, and build the data infrastructure for the sector.”

• To find out more about the event (27 February to March 1) visit: www.uk.coop/nrcc/home.

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