Annual Q&A: Shirine Khoury-Haq, CEO, the Co-op Group

‘We will need to remain vigilant in 2023 in terms of the economic climate and cost pressures, for our business but also for those who depend on us’

 How was last year for the Co-op Group?

We have so much to be proud of as we come to the end of the year, in what we’ve achieved with our members. And that’s especially impressive when we think about those challenges our 59,000 colleagues faced, including headwinds from the war in Ukraine and a cost of living crisis which affects members, customers, clients, colleagues and those communities and causes relying on us for support.

Like many other organisations, we have had to make changes to our business and reduce our costs in order to remain strong and resilient in these difficult times and beyond. I am very grateful to my colleagues for delivering to our members, customers and communities – and for remaining focused on delivering our vision.

And there are far too many things to list, that we’ve achieved together, but to name just some of the highlights from this year – we achieved the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Sustainable Development; reached our £8m fundraising target for Mind, SAMH and Inspire; launched the Caboodle platform, distributed surplus food across communities; implemented a new colleague fertility treatment policy and our partnership with Your Local Pantry was brought to life with the help of Big Zuu, Miguel Barclay and our Christmas advertising spend.

I have to say a big thank you here to our members, council, board and Co-op News readers who supported us in 2022.

Related: New initiatives on food justice, Fairtrade, plastic waste from Co-op Group

What are your hopes for the future?

So, we’re ending 2022 feeling optimistic, but also realistic. We will need to remain vigilant in 2023 in terms of the economic climate and cost pressures, for our business but also for those who depend on us.

All my colleagues are working hard to keep our Co-op strong and commercially secure, as our businesses continue to deliver, while really performing and leading in their markets. This ensures our Co-op will be there to support those who need us in what will continue to be difficult times for so many.

Our vision of ‘Co-operating for a Fairer World’ will continue to be our focus and we’ll be looking to build on some of our 2022 achievements further in 2023. I was delighted to speak at COP27 recently on water security, and our Co-op joined other retailers and Community Energy England in encouraging Government to incentivise and encourage investment in renewable energy.

I’m so excited to see our new fertility treatment policy make real change to the lives of our colleagues, and for our new partnership with Your Local Pantry and our other with Hubbub to support the growth of these amazing causes.

Also, I am so proud of our 30 Co-op academies, and I am looking forward to their continued growth and success as they educate and prepare our wonderful students for what I hope will be bright and successful futures.