2023: Review of the Year

Friday Dec 29, 2023

As we look forward to the new year, we’re taking a moment to reflect on the last twelve months and to appreciate what our Society has achieved in 2023. None of which would be possible, of course, without members like you shopping in our stores. It’s not been the easiest of years, but we’ve tried a few new things, helped a few more people, and hopefully left the communities of Essex in a slightly better position than they were in at the start of the year.

Here’s a few of our favourite moments!


January 2023

January saw the completion of our Community Fund‘s second year. £60,000 has now been awarded in grants from the Fund to worthy causes across Essex, and it’s all thanks to the money you’ve spent in our stores. This month, we also helped save money by offering money saving tips, and suggested ideas for those trying ‘veganuary‘ for the month.



This month, a team of volunteers planted over 700 trees in Chelmsford as part of our late Queen’s Green Canopy Project, creating a lasting woodland legacy in our name. We also held a sold-out Fairtrade wine and chocolate tasting evening as we proved that ethically sourced food and drink can taste amazing and win awards.



Chelmsford Star joined Grocery Aid in March, allowing all our colleagues full and free access to financial, emotional and legal advice, counselling and all sorts of extra support. We also greatly expanded the range of departments available on the Quadrant webshop, plus – as it was ‘bed month’ – we offered a guide on buying the perfect mattress and top tips for sleeping advice.



We collaborated with Essex Libraries to encourage more teenagers to ‘rediscover reading‘ and offered a safe space for them to do so, away from peer pressure and distractions.

Meanwhile, our travel team saw more people booking holidays after a long period of caution following lockdown. You can find inspiration for your 2024 dream trip here!



CEO, Barry Wood, outlined our financial accounts and business developments at our Annual General Meeting of members, details of which can still be found here. There was also an update on our membership activity and community investment.

And, as the UK saw a new King sworn in, we elected our new Society President.



The summer was our season for food-tastings, Big Co-op Clean Ups and festivals, our favourite of which was Little Legs in Braintree where we gave out thousands of pieces of fruit and talked healthy eating with new parents.

We also discussed what makes Co-ops different as part of the Great Big Green Week, whilst the travel team wanted us all to take a summer holiday!



To mark the end of Co-op Fortnight, our Youth Board held a Cultural Exchange event to allow those in minority communities the chance to share their food, dance, fashion and culture.

Elsewhere, we celebrated World Chocolate Day (yum) and gave out more Community grants.




The first of a new look food store was introduced in Leigh On Sea, incorporating the International Co-op Marque. You can take a tour around it here.

Meanwhile, Braintree Funerals celebrated 30 years by leading a procession around the town which you can watch here.




Nearly 100 volunteers joined us as part of the Great British Beach Clean to clean up Shoebury, picking up over 80kg of litter from a 200 metre stretch of beach.

We also introduced new post services into our food stores, so they now offered Amazon Lockers, InPost, Evri, Collect + options and more!




Our final food-tasting event of the year culminated in six famous brands sampling products from our Danbury store.

We also introduced a new offer for new Co-op members: 15% off their first three food-shops. This saw our number of new members shoot up!



Our CEO recorded an ‘interim’ message for members, with an update on how Chelmsford Star performed in the first half of the year.

Meanwhile, our funeral team led a parade through Ingatestone as they moved location to a new, specially-blessed, site closer to the church.



This year, our annual Christmas Remembrance Service was held in Dunmow, with a live-stream taking it across the world.

It was definitely the season of giving for the Society, and you can read more about what we got up to here.



member elections recruitment

If you want to know more about what we get up to in the community, or have your own ideas on how we can help, we’re always looking for members who are happy to act as a Member Representative, regularly meeting with us and ensuring we continue to be the best Co-op we can be.

Find out more about our elections here.



As we head into the new year, there is already plenty to do on the horizon, from store refits and clearance events to new member offers and food-tasting evenings. Keep an eye out on our facebook or events pages for more information. Don’t forget the Member Portal is always on hand if you want an update on your account. Check there for your unspent dividend – it’s the perfect way to buying your new year celebratory food and drink!



Thanks for being with us for the last year and we look forward to serving you – and in turn supporting your community – through 2024 and beyond.


Wishing you a happy and healthy 2024.

Happy new year!