Conference programme, speakers and presentations

Click on speakers' names (highlighted in green) to view and download presentations.

Friday 28 February 2020

Time Description


Check-in opens 

Hotel check-in opens for those staying overnight, please report to Cranage Estate's reception desk.

Event registration opens

Co-operative Retail Conference registration desk will be open from 15.00 - 19.30 for attendee's to collect conference name badges, printed programmes and any event related material.


First timers session

An informal welcome session on what to expect throughout the weekend for those who have not attended Retail Conference previously.


Drinks reception - sponsored by Federal Retail Trading Sevices

Enjoy a drink alongside other delegates.


Networking dinner - sponsored by Federal Retail Trading Services

An opportunity to meet and catch up with new and existing contacts over an informal buffet dinner.

Saturday 29 February

Time Description


Morning refreshments


Welcome – Ed Mayo, Co-operatives UK

More about the speaker

Ed joined Co‑operatives UK in 2009. He was formerly Chief Executive at the National Consumer Council and New Economics Foundation. Ed was one of the team that created the Fairtrade Mark and helped to start a financial co‑operative in London.

In 2007, Ed led the merger of three consumer bodies – comprising over 400 staff across 20 offices. He is Vice-President of Cooperatives Europe and, beyond his day job, is Treasurer of a small charity promoting cultural links with Mozambique and Chair of the democracy charity, Involve.


Keeping pace with the British shopper – Rhian Thomas, IGD

As customers increasingly become more health and environmentally conscious, retailers must prepare for a continual shift in behaviours and attitudes over the next five to 10 years. During this session Rhian Thomas, Head of Shopper Insight at food and grocery industry experts IGD, will share research gathered via their analysis tool ShopperVista and put the spotlight on emerging trends and challenges faced by retailers.

More about the speaker

Rhian Thomas joined grocery market experts IGD at the start of 2015 and manages the Shopper Team leading projects for the ShopperVista service. Rhian has over 10 years’ experience designing and running research projects.

Prior to working for IGD she managed the Customer Insight Team at B&Q. Rhian recently completed her MRS Diploma in Market and Social Research Practice.


Co-op sourcing differences – Michael Fletcher, The Co-op

Sourcing from local and ethical suppliers helps co-operatives differentiate from other retailers - creating and reinforcing the view that co-ops are ethical retailers who do more for the communities in which they operate. In this session you will hear from The Co-op Group's Michael Fletcher on how one of the world's largest consumer co-operatives sources products and complies to industry standards. 

More about the speaker

Michael Fletcher joined The Co‑op in 2013 and as the Chief Commercial Officer is responsible for sourcing and trading strategies across FRTS, The Co‑op and Nisa. Michael has been in food retail his entire career and has extensive operational experience in developing and leading commercial strategy, opening new markets and leading integration projects. 

Over the past 18 months, The Co‑op has been through a significant change programme which is at the heart of building a Co‑op fit for the future. Michael's teams have been responsible for integrating Nisa into The Co‑op; designing and building a new Enterprise Platform that will support Group's ambition for 'tailored' convenience; developing a Co‑op Brand proposition – and creating a vision for the sourcing of food which charts a path to a more ethical and sustainable food future.

Michael is married and has three children. While he has ambitions to play golf and sail he tends to be fond on sports fields including helping coach at his local rugby club. Keen to support young people’s education Michael is a Governor at Co‑op Academy Bebbington.


Mid-morning Refreshments


Plant Based Diets and Refill stations: Adapting to Changing Tastes – Andrew Mackintosh, Suma

The emergence of plant based diets into the mainstream has been one of the biggest shifts in the retail sector over the last eighteen months. With a doubling in demand for cruelty free home and body care, and a three-fold increase in the number of vegans, it’s predicted that flexitarians will account for half the adult population of the UK by 2025.

How can co-operative retailers respond to this demand? This session from Suma, the UK’s largest worker owned co-op which has been leading the way in these categories for decades, outlines some of the big trends it’s seeing. From vegan and plant based innovations, natural body care options and a refill and re-use revolution ready for the taking, this presentation will offer guidance on strategic and practical ways to help retailers ensure they’re offering relevant ranges to the growing number of people adopting plant based diets.

More about the speaker

Andrew has worked in the food industry all his professional life, with the last 22 years at Suma, the UK’s largest independent wholefood, vegetarian and vegan wholesaler.

Working mostly in sales and business consultancy over this period, Andrew has been involved in the development and sales of industry innovations including the first ever recycled toilet paper and latterly, vegan and pea soup – described as "a must have in every vegan's kitchen." Andrew splits his time between his native Yorkshire and London.


Co-operation for the Future – Debbie Robinson, Central England Co-operative

What’s in store for retail co-operatives in the future? How can co-operatives work together to face these challenges and trends? In this session you will hear from Central England’s Debbie Robinson on the challenges and trends of the present and future and how Central England aim to face these.    

More about the speaker

Debbie is the Chief Executive of Central England Co‑operative and has had an extensive career, having worked in the Retail sector for over 35 years. Debbie is no stranger to co‑operative ethics and values, having previous experience at a senior level within the co‑operative movement at the Co‑op Group.

Debbie has a sound track record of success and is highly respected in the retail industry.  She was most recently the UK Managing Director at SPAR UK and previously worked for the Co‑op Group, Marks & Spencer and WH Smith. In her spare time, Debbie enjoys charity bike rides, jogging, walking and the Arts.


Lunch break


The Future of Membership – Chris Matthews, East of England and Melody Aguero, Midcounties

The relationship with members is fundamentally changing through factors like increased automation and digital solutions. Members can seem more distant while competition remains as fierce, if not fiercer than ever. East of England Co-operative's Chris Matthews​ and Midcounties' Melody Ageuro​ will explore the challenges and strategic decisions required to ensure co-operatives remain relevant to customers and membership is kept at the heart of the business model.

More about the speakers

Chris Matthews, Director and Supermarket Manager – East of England Co‑operative

Chris is a Board Member and the current Chair of the Membership and Community Engagement Committee at East of England Co‑op where he has played an active role in re-shaping the membership strategy. Chris has worked for co‑ops since the age of 13 and currently manages the society's flagship supermarket in Framlingham, Suffolk.

Chris is currently undertaking an executive MBA in Co-operative Leadership and is a member of the Chartered Management Institute. In his spare time he regularly attends events in his local community to raise awareness of co-operation and the co‑op difference.

Melody Aguero, Head of Brand Strategy Insights – Midcounties Co‑operative

Melody Aguero heads up the Brand and Insights departments at Midcounties Co‑op. Melody introduced the first customer insights programme in the Food division back in 2016 from which the team were able to implement a wide range of solutions based on insights.

These improvements have generated an increase of 19% in customer satisfaction since launch. In 2018 Melody launched “Your Co‑op Voice”, a research panel made up of 95% members which has been integral in shaping Midcounties’ membership, CSR and individual trading groups strategies.


Mid-afternoon refreshments


Employee Engagement – Fay Bocock and Peter Motley, Lincolnshire Co-operative & Andrew Flook and John Porter, Engage Solutions Group

All businesses are facing challenges in their workforce.  Good employee engagement and motivation strategies are crucial to improving productivity and accessibility to information.   The session will focus on those strategies, as we hear from Engage Solutions Group, solution provider of the Engage Success Platform, on how it’s developed a cloud-based solution on which to build your engagement strategy and Lincolnshire Co-operative Ltd on how they’ve implemented their version of the solution, TogetherApp, across all of its business areas providing accessibility to 2800+ colleagues as part of their engagement strategy.

More about the speakers

Fay Bocock, Policy and Projects Manager – Lincolnshire Co‑operative

Fay has over 18 years’ experience in Human Resources and a Member of the CIPD.

As a Policy and Projects Manager for Lincolnshire Co‑op, Fay is responsible for helping to move the business forward with new digital technology and work to ensure colleagues engage with business initiatives and projects are launched effectively.

Peter Motley, I.S. Projects and Development Manager – Linconshire Co‑operative

Peter has more than 30 years' experience working for Lincolnshire Co‑operative, predominately in IT based roles.

Peter is responsible for working alongside the different business areas providing technical assistance, support and delivery of IT solutions within the society, embracing the different technologies and platforms that are now available whilst ensuring that the business objectives and functional requirements are met.


Update on European Markets – Loic Pelletier, FNCC and Mathias Fiedler, ZDK Co-op

Consumer Co-operatives across Europe are facing different challenges and trends to UK market. Join us as we're updated from FNCC (French Federation of Consumer Co-operatives) and ZDK (Syndicate of Consumer Co-operatives in Germany) on what is currently happening in other European markets.

More about the speakers

Loic Pelletier, President – FNCC (French Federation of Consumer Co‑operatives)

A former consultant at Arthur Andersen Consulting, Loic has spent most of his professionnal life in the food industry (cheese company Savencia), and as a director member and President Director (23 years) of Coop Atlantique – one of the three historical regional consumer co-op in France.

Coop Atlantique, founded in Limoges in 1881, employs more than 3500 people with sales of around 850 M€, with five hypermarkets (Hyper U), 60 supermarkets (Super U, U Express) and more than 100 grocery co-operatives. Loic is currently a board member of the retail co-operative Système U, whose sales are almost €20 billion – an 11% of the French retail market. Since 2009 Loic has been President at FNCC.

Matias Fiedler, President – Euro Coop

Mathias started his career within the co-operative sector in 2002 as a lawyer for consumer co-operatives. In 2011 Mathias moved on to being a spokesperson for Zentralverband deutscher Konsumgenossenschaften (ZDK) the syndicate for consumer co‑operatives in Germany.

Since 2019 Mathias has been President of Euro Coop, the organisation that brings together the national associations of consumer co-operatives across 20 European countries.


Conference day 1 close – Ed Mayo, Co-operatives UK


Free time

A chance for delegates to get ready for the evening and enjoy leisure facilities on-site.



19:00 Drinks reception

Enjoy a drink alongside other delegates.

19:30 Gala dinner

Enjoy a three-course dinner - sponsored by Federal Retail Trading Services - followed by a charity raffle prize draw (with proceeds to Mind).

21:30 Entertainment band

Dance and sing along to music across the decades performed by local Cheshire band, Dexter. Sponsored by Federal Retail Trading Sdervices. 

23:30 Event close

Sunday 1 March

Time Description


Morning refreshments



Welcome – Ed Mayo, Co-operatives UK


Consultation on Global Policy – Nick Matthews, Co-operatives UK and Peter Hunt, Mutuo

Consumer Co-operatives Worldwide (CCW) represents the interests of 28 national consumer co-op networks across the globe - covering some 75 million individual members. CCW is undertaking work to assess regulatory, legislative and policy barriers for co-operatives. This interactive session will examine the importance of CCW's work; why it's relevant to the UK's consumer co-operatives; how we can influence future work and also act on any findings.

More about the speakers

Nick Matthews, Chair – Co‑operatives UK

Nick is the Chair of Co-operatives UK, a director of the Heart of England Co-operative Society, and a Member of the Senate at the Co-operative Group.

Nick is a lecturer in the business school at Coventry University specialising in co-operative and social enterprises.

As well as being a Trustee of the UK Society of Co-operative Studies, Nick is also the Journal reviews editor.’ In his spare time he is a Director of the Walsall Football Club SupportersTrust.

Peter Hunt, Managing Director – Mutuo

Peter founded Mutuo in 2001 as the first cross mutual sector body to improve the business environment for co‑ops and mutuals. For 10 years prior he was General Secretary of the Co‑operative Party. He was co-founder of Supporters Direct, which went on to establish over 100 supporters’ trusts at professional football clubs.

He led the Parliamentary teams which piloted five private members bills through Parliament, working with all parties to update co‑operative and mutual law. Peter advises globally on policy development and in 2018/19 led the successful industry alliance to deliver the Australian Treasury Laws Amendment (Mutual Reforms) Act.


Event close – Ed Mayo, Co-operatives UK


Pack and check-out

Hotel check out is by 11.00, giving delegates 20 minutes to pack up their belongings and check out at hotel reception.

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