Chelmsford Star supports Co-op Fortnight…

Monday Jun 24, 2024

At Chelmsford Star Co-op, we are thrilled to be part of Co-op Fortnight, a time when co-operatives and organisations across the UK unite to celebrate and promote the co-operative movement.

This year’s Co-op Fortnight runs from 24th June to 7th July and is particularly special as we commemorate the 180th anniversary of the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society, the world’s first successful consumer retail co-operative.

The principles established by the Rochdale Pioneers in 1844 have laid the foundation for modern co-operatives worldwide, and their legacy continues to inspire us today.

Many of us are familiar with co-operative high street convenience shops, but the co-operative model extends far beyond that. A co-operative is a business or organisation owned and led by its members to meet their shared needs.

These Members can be customers, employees, residents or suppliers, all of whom have a say in how the co-operative is run. This democratic structure is at the heart of what makes co-operatives a distinct and powerful way to do business.

The theme for this year’s Co-op Fortnight is “An Altogether Different Way to Do Business.” This theme highlights the unique benefits and values that co-operatives bring to their members and communities.

At Chelmsford Star, we embody this theme through various innovative and impactful initiatives…

  1. Member Economic Involvement

Trade conducted with members represented 12.6% of our total sales, compared with 11.2% in 2022/23. The level of trade has improved significantly throughout the year thanks to the range of instant member benefits that were first introduced in January 2023.

  1. Member Democratic Participation

The elections in May 2023 were uncontested for all three tiers within the Society’s structure. Those members who stood for election were appointed for a 3-year term (Board), 2-year term (Membership Committee and Members’ Council). The remaining Board vacancy was filled by a Director co-opted for a one-year term.

  1. Participation of Colleagues and Members in Training and Education

We have provided 8,970 hours of training to our colleagues and Directors, compared to 8,521 in 2022/23. In the year, 7 colleagues have benefited via the Apprenticeship Levy, compared to 12 in 2022/23. Additionally, 436 hours of education have been provided to our members via membership activities, compared to 453 in 2022/23.

  1. Colleague Profile, Gender and Ethnicity

The gender split of colleagues is 61% female, 39% male. Your Society’s Board and Executive management team currently has a 75:25 mix of males to females. Of our colleagues, 7.87% are of non-white ethnicity, this compares to 7.1% last year. The Society’s Gender Pay Report is available to download here.

  1. Customer Satisfaction

We continue to overwhelmingly meet the needs of our customers and members. Reviews and surveys collected by the Society’s trading divisions confirm 100% of clients who have used our Funeral services would recommend us. 99% of our Department Store customers surveyed described their shopping experience as good or excellent. 100% of our travel customers said the helpfulness of our staff was good or excellent.

  1. Consideration of Ethical Issues and Procurement and Investment Decisions

The majority of our food procurement is through membership of the Federal Retail Trading Services (FRTS). We actively support the ethical buying policies of FRTS including developing fair and sustainable relationships with suppliers across its supply chain and in particular with Fairtrade suppliers. The remainder of our food is sourced locally by verified local suppliers. The majority of our non-food procurement is conducted through membership of the Association of Independent Stores (AIS), which is managed in accordance with ethical buying policies which we support. With the introduction of The Modern Slavery Act 2015, the Society is required to publish a statement outlining steps taken during the financial year to ensure that slavery and human trafficking are not taking place in our business or supply chain. A copy of the Society’s statement can be downloaded here. Given that the Society makes most of its purchases via FRTS and AIS, the Society has focussed on suppliers outside of these arrangements. A full statement of steps taken is available on the Society’s website. Your Society has made an active commitment to supporting our local economy. Research suggests that for every £1.00 spent with the Society, 28 pence is re-invested back into the local community.

  1. Investment in the Community and Co-operative Initiatives

Cash donations, investment and colleague time supporting the community totalled £115k this year compared to £141k in 2022/23. In addition, £500 was donated to supporting Co-operatives through cash donations, investment and colleague time, which compares to £1.5k last year.

  1. Net CO2 Emissions Arising from Operations

Our electricity consumption has reduced by 3% compared to last year. Overall, our Net CO2 emissions decreased by 10% despite an increase in greenhouse gas conversion factors. Further details on the Society’s environmental credentials can be found on page 10 of our Annual Report. Download HERE.

  1. Waste Recycling

We have diverted from landfill approximately 99.7% of the waste produced, compared to 99.2% in 2022/23.

  1. Concern for the Community

The Society introduced the Chelmsford Star Community Fund in 2021, in conjunction with Essex Community Foundation. Quarterly, the Membership Committee reviews applications received and awards funding. Since working with Essex Community Foundation, over £55k has been awarded, initially as part of the Coronavirus Response & Recovery Fund and subsequently via the Chelmsford Star Community Fund.

Co-operatives are democratic businesses with a purpose beyond profit, dedicated to sharing power and wealth. However, to truly thrive, we need more support from the government. As the next UK general election approaches on the 4th of July, we are calling on all political parties to commit to co-operative growth.