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Co-op Retail Conference

Woman speaking at the co-op retail conference

The Co-operative Retail Conference attracts leaders, managers and directors from the UK's co-op retail societies and is an unrivalled learning and networking opportunity,

The Co-op Retail Conference took place on Friday 5 March 2021. Programme details can still be found below. For information around accessing recordings of the day's sessions contact our events co-ordinator, Leoni Merrifield.

What happened on the day...

The challenges of Covid-19 meant this year's conference was entirely online. We responded to the challenge by assembling a fantastic line-up of speakers.

9.30-10.00: Introduction - Welcome and update from Co-operatives UK

Rose Marley, CEO, Co-operatives UK

Join Rose, our new, CEO who will welcome you to this year's conference and provide an update on Co-operatives UK's recent activity and plans for 2021.

10.00-11.00: Session 1 - Retail trends, challenges and opportunities

Nick Gladding, Senior Retail Analyst, IGD

The Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD) has been a staple diet of the Retail Conference - and with good reason. The industry experts offer intelligence on shoppers, retailing and supply chains and on wider issues including health, nutrition, sustainability and economics. We're delighted to welcome IGD's Nick Gladding and delegates can look forward to a thought-provoking presentation. Nick will take us through an overview of 2020, exploring how the grocery sector responded to the challenges of the pandemic and how it was changed by it. The senior retail analyst will also provide an outlook for 2021 combining IGD’s latest thinking on the economy and the retail landscape with insights on shopper trends and expectations. Nick will also examine retailer strategies and responses to issues including e-commerce, sustainability and the role of technology in stores. And of course, the content will all be focused on implications for the UK's retail societies.

11.15-11.55: Session 2 - Building back better: Achieving the right customer experience in a post-covid world

Jo Causon, CEO, The Institute of Customer Service

The retail sector has been an invaluable resource for communities during the Covid-19 pandemic - supplying the basic necessities required by all. However, retail staff members have been at the forefront of some negative customer behaviour. In this session, Jo Causon, from the Institute of Customer Service (ICS), will focus on how the retail sector is performing from a customer service, staff engagement and customer satisfaction perspective. Joe will also highlight good practice from outside the retail sector; explain trends seen in customer service; and  the 'Service with Respect' campaign and why it matters.

12.00- 12.40: Session 3 - Supporting mental health and wellbeing in the workplace

Emma Slaven, Mental Health and Wellbeing Senior Business Partner, Acas

Covid-19 has illuminated the importance of mental health and wellbeing. This session will introduce the Acas Framework for supporting positive mental health in the workplace. In particular it will focus on the role senior leaders and managers play in developing a strategy that supports positive mental wellbeing. Emma Slaven, from Acas, will explore practical examples, demonstrating how different organisations have embedded a wellbeing strategy and supported staff during Covid-19.

13.30-14.20: Session 4 - The future of co-operation

Dan Sodergren, Futurist and Tech Expert

The 20th century philosopher, Bertrand Russell, said: "The only thing that will redeem mankind is co-operation." Rose Marley, CEO of Co-operatives UK opens this session by discussing the potential reality of what this statement could mean on its 100th anniversary in 2054. The future of retail and the future of co-operation will be impacted by technological advances that will completely and utterly change the way we live, work and consume.

In this eye-opening session, futurist and tech expert Dan Sodergren, will reveal the four Cs in tech for the next five years - and share insight into the culture of co-operation in tech and how it can be harnessed for good. As a regular speaker for BBC Breakfast, WatchDog and The One Show, Dan's expertise and knowledge will enlighten, inform and provide delegates with ideas. We need to do some serious thinking to ensure the future is enabled by co-operative tech as opposed to dictated by it.

Dan and Rose will be joined by Steve Murrells, CEO of The Co-op Group and Debbie Robinson, CEO of Central England Co-op to discuss the implications for the co-operative retail sector.

14.25-15.00: Session 5 - Creating a sustainable Society for all

Debbie Robinson, CEO, Central England Co-op

Central England Co-operative are committed to creating a sustainable Society for all. In this session, Debbie Robinson will share Central England's progress in creating a stronger co-operative that is invested in protecting the environment and also the mental and physical wellbeing of colleagues, members and customers.

15.20-15.55: Session 6 - How co-operation can play a key role in the future of community energy

Lizzie Hieron, Chief Operating Officer - Utilities, Midcounties Co-operative

How can members access socially responsible and low carbon products which support net zero goals? Co-op Utilities has been created to provide members relevant energy and telecoms products and services that support our members and the communities we live in, while making renewable energy and technology accessible and affordable for all. Working with Community Energy partners we are supporting education, the build of new and innovative renewable energy initiatives and community investment. During the session we will share our approach to Co-op Utilities, how we are supporting our Co-operative heritage and how we want to support co-operation by partnering with you for member benefit.

16.00-17.00: Session 7 - Sharing our challenges, ideas and successes

The Retail Conference is renowned for its networking. Delegates might be meeting virtually, but they'll have the same opportunity to come together and learn from one another. This interactive session will give delegates the opportunity to be split into smaller breakout sessions to discuss the issues that matter to them.

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