UK’s Central Co-op hosts Euro Coop General Assembly

Delegates also took part in a tour of Central Co-op stores

The European Community of Consumer Cooperatives, Euro Coop, held its General Assembly last week at the Central Co-op Support Centre in Lichfield.

The event, which took place on 13 June, saw members sign off on reports from the president and secretary-general, as well as approving financial and activity reports for 2023 and Euro Coop’s upcoming calendar of events.

Members also ratified changes in board representation for Euro Coop’s national organisational members in Sweden and Slovakia.

The representative for Swedish consumer co-op union KF Sweden was confirmed as Therese Knapp, the organisation’s public affairs and press manager, while retail chain Coop Jednota Slovakia will be represented by the co-operative’s chief commercial officer Renáta Peťovská.

A strategic session also took place after the General Assembly, where delegates discussed Euro Coop’s strategic and operational priorities for the coming year as well as how to engage members.

The event was hosted by Central Co-op, at its business support centre in Lichfield. Delegates arrived a day before the General Assembly to take part in a tour of the city and an evening dinner organised by Central. 

The group also visited three Central Co-op food stores during the trip, to learn about different aspects of Central’s approach to co-operative retail, including green energy and self-sufficiency at the Streethay store, and colleague safety initiatives at the Curborough Road store.

A visit to the Boley Park store provided an opportunity for Central Co-op to share details of its Malawi Partnership, an poverty-alleviation initiative launched in 2022.

The partnership works with the Malawi Federation of Co-operatives to sell a variety of Malawian products in UK Central Co-ops stories, such as tea and nuts. 

Euro Coop said the trip to the UK held “special significance”, as the co-op movement this year celebrates 180 years since the Rochdale Pioneers laid down the foundations of the modern co-operative movement, adding that the visit “not only celebrated our rich heritage but also served as a catalyst for future strategies”. 

Central Co-op chief executive Debbie Robinson said the co-op was “delighted to welcome our European co-operative colleagues to our Support Centre in Lichfield as part of the 2024 Euro Coop General Assembly, in this historic 180th year of co-operation”.

Robinson added: “the event brought to life the spirit of co-operation, forming new connections, and collaborating for a co-operative future”. 

Following the trip to Lichfield, delegates from Euro Coop attended Co-op Congress in Birmingham, a two-day conference organised by Cooperatives UK. Here, attendees had the opportunity to exchange ideas and learnings from across the UK co-op movement, including community service, member engagement and empowering young people.