A motion asking the Group’s board to collaborate with other co-operative societies to maximise the potential of the brand was passed.
Co-operative Brands Limited, a subsidiary of the Group, owns most registered ‘The Co-operative’ trademarks. The Co-operative Bank, in which the Group holds a 20% interest continues to own its registered trademark ‘The Co-operative Bank’ and other related trademarks.
With the governance reforms adopted in 2014, trademark licensing arrangements were formalised between the Group and independent co-operative societies under a new federal organisation, Federal Retail Trading Services Limited. The motion asked the board to ensure that any future evolution of the brand was planned and implemented in partnership with the other co-operatives societies that use it, for the benefit of all societies and the movement as a whole.
Vivian Woodell, director of Midcounties Co-operative, proposed the motion. He said: “This motion is about our common brand, about who we are to our members and public.” He looked back to the past of the retail movement with defragmented ‘Co-op’ branding across various societies before The Co-operative brand.
Mr Woodell said that while the brand had suffered due to the crisis at the Co-operative Bank, it was better to work through this issue than risk having the common co-operative identity fragmented.
He also referred to rumours about ditching the ‘Co-operative’ brand. “There are powerful arguments as to why this is not appropriate for our business right now,” he said, adding that a switch to the ‘Co-op’ would confuse the public.
“We need to work with other societies to take the brand forward. The brand is a joint endeavour and it needs to be managed as such. Now is the time for us to stand together rather than go on separate paths.”
The council recommended members to support this motion. It was passed with 96% of the vote (for: 93,874/against: 3,639/withheld: 17,246).