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The 2019 Co-operative Retail Conference took place from 8-10 March in Cheshire. Click on session titles and/or presenter names to view and download presentations.

Friday 8 March

18.30 - First timers' session. Discover more about the weekend ahead, meet Co-operatives UK colleagues and fellow delegates

19.00 - Drinks reception

19.30 - Farmers Market style buffet dinner

Saturday 9 March

09.30 - Welcome. A short introduction from Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK

09.45 - Remaking retail: James Walton, IGD
The ever-popular Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD) kicked off the programme. James examined how UK retail will be affected by Brexit and what this means for co-operatives retailers. IGD's Chief Economist also focused on cultural shifts including increased demand for healthier options and changing views on animal ethics. A further focus was on how technology advances are changing the way we address sustainability, resources and labour

10.45 - Refreshment break

11.15 - Who makes the decisions in a co-op? Gareth Swarbrick, Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH)
RBH - the UK's first tenant and employee co-owned mutual housing society - produced its first corporate strategy in a radically different way? Delegates heard how a pioneering organisation is using traditional ideas around member-ownership and democracy. Who sets the strategy? What's the role of members and how does the democratic process work? This interactive session, led by RBH's Chief Executive, lifted the lid on a pioneering approach inspired by the original co-op pioneers

12.15 - Innovations and new initiatives: Phil Ponsonby, Midcounties; Lee Hammond, East of England, Hannah Gallimore, Central England and Simone Connolly, FareShare East Midlands
Three co-operative societies shared three unique initiatives. From a fresh approach to food waste, to sourcing your food, to developments in personal security services, this truly collaborative session prove through-provoking and inspirational

13.15 - Lunch break

14.15 - Challenges and opportunities in the funeral sector: Alison Close, The Co-op; James Blackburn, Scotmid and Jon Levett, National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD)
How are digital marketing, pre-pay funerals and increased government interest impacting on the sector? Industry experts examined how the funeral market is changing - and how a range of co-operative societies are meeting new challenges and opportunities

15.15 - An American (grocery market) tale: Stephen McDow, Keystone Development Center
Large retailers like Walmart, Whole Foods, Trader Joes and Target - plus local grocery chains - are all competing in the United States' grocery sector. In the face of fierce competition, grocery co-ops are leaning on their co-op difference and/or developing innovative ways to attract a younger custom base. Can the UK's retail societies learn from their American counterparts? With examples including Durham Co-op Market and Weavers Way Co-op, delegates benefited from insight into an American response to challenging retail conditions

15.45 - Refreshment break

16.00 - Show me the money - the future of payment systems: Stephen Gill and Richard Bridges, VME Coop
Would your co-op like to eliminate credit card processing fees and commissions? VME Coop, whose software runs in nine of the 13 independent coops, took delegates on a journey taking in the payment systems of the future. From innnovative fintech (financial technology) apps, which can eliminate credit card fees and/or allow payment via a phone swipe, to checkout free shopping through Amazon Go, the payment landscape is changing - and the co-op movement needs to stay up to date. Stephen and Richard also took a look at reward-based shopping and promotions - again through apps - as well as consumer payment trends (with a focus on Millennials and Generation Z)

16.40 - BT’s worst kept secret will change your business foreverNick Thompson, The Phone Co-op
Businesses throughout the UK are reliant on phone lines that were invented in the 1800s. They decay, are expensive to run and they break. These lines will become obsolete in 2025 when BT switch off all PSTN and ISDN lines. This effects everything in your business that is reliant on telephone lines and broadband, from POS tills to card readers and from phones to payroll systems. You need to be prepared for this change and delegates in this session learned exactly what the BT IP Transition means; how it effects them; how to futureproof stores; and how to save money

17.00 - Day one close

19.00 - Drinks reception followed by a three course dinner and charity raffle

21.00 - Evening Entertainment from Dexter

Sunday 10 March

09.30Welcome. Nick Matthews, of Co-operatives UK, introduces day two

09.45 - Associated benefits - how national bodies adapt to meet member needs. Doug O'Brien, National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA); Robin Fieth, the Building Societies Association (BSA)
What do other national bodies do to support their members? With examples from the UK and the United States, delegates were given a broad taste of how other bodies were satisfying the varying needs of their members

10.45 - Refreshment break

11.00 - How do we evolve to support the changing needs of the movement and our members?  Facilitated by Nick Matthews, of Co-operatives UK
We recognise that our oldest and largest members are facing competitive pressures in the retail sector - and the role movement-wide organisations play in supporting co-operative success. This participatory session shared early work between the Co-operative College, Co-operative Heritage Trust, Co-operative Press and Co-operatives UK to explore new ways of working together to best meet member and movement-wide needs. The session provided delegates with the opportunity to support and shape this developing work

12.30 - Retail Conference close. Summary and conference close from Ed Mayo, Co-operatives UK

12.30 - Lunch (take-away or buffet in restaurant)

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