UK’s retail co-ops issue joint statement for Co-op Fortnight

The retailers voice solidarity in tackling Covid-19 and their commitment to helping the world build back better

The UK’s retail co-ops have issued a joint statement for Co-op Fortnight (22 June – 5 July) addressing the “immense” challenges of Covid-19 and the need to address the world’s key problems.

The letter, signed by CEOs Steve Murrells (Co-op Group),Phil Ponsonby (Midcounties), Ursula Lidbetter, (Lincolnshire), Don Morris (Radstock; also chair of Co-operatives UK), Mark Smith (Southern), Ali Kurji
(Heart of England), John Brodie (Scotmid), Debbie Robinson (Central England, co signed by president Elaine Dean), Barry Wood (Chelmsford Star), Mark Cox (Channel Islands, acting), Niall O’Keefe (East of England, joint), says: “Co-operatives have always thrived in periods of social and economic change, when needs go unmet and people look to themselves and others for support.”

The letter highlights co-op Principle 7, concern for community, saying this has been at the heart of their response to the pandemic, and says this collaborative community spirit should be maintained to bring positive change as the world recovers from the crisis.

It says: “Individually and collectively, we have all stepped up to protect our people, keep our communities served and our partners supported. None of this could have been achieved without co-operation and collaboration. 

Central England Co-op colleagues demonstrate social distancing measures

“We now have a unique opportunity to work together to rebuild our economy and communities with responsibility, fairness and kindness at its core. 

“Let’s build something better together. As co-operatives we believe it is important that we play our part locally but also globally. 

“That’s why we are all supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which are in effect the ‘to do list’ for the world, focusing on, and addressing, the world’s biggest challenges and a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.”

It adds: “The Covid-19 crisis has touched most, if not all of these goals, having a disproportionate impact on communities already disadvantaged by pre-existing inequalities. The achievement of these goals is now more important than ever and reinforces the need for urgent, large scale action. 

“We recognise that the global societal and environmental challenges we face can’t be achieved alone and that there is power in co-operation. We remain committed to continuing to work together as co-operatives and with others, so we build a better future together.”