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Co-op Retail Conference 2023

Co-op Retail 2022 stage

The Co-op Retail Conference attracts leaders, managers and directors from the UK's leading co-operative retail societies due to its compelling content and status as an unrivalled learning and networking opportunity. 

The Co-operative Retail Conference 2023 takes place from Friday 24 March to Sunday 26 March at De Vere Cranage Estate in Holmes Chapel, Cheshire. We've assembled an incredible range of speakers including The Co-op Group CEO Shirine Khoury-Haq; IGD's UK Insight Manager, Dan Gillett; and an international speaker from Coop Denmark.

Friday 24 March

10.00 - 12.00: Consumer Council meeting

12.00-18.00: CEO & Presidents lunch and forum (by invitation only)

15.00 onwards: Conference registration opens and bedroom check-in opens

16.30-18.00: Policy workshop facilitated by James Wright, Co-operatives UK. This workshop is a fantastic opportunity to help shape Co-operatives UK's policy work over the coming months and years. How can we further level the playing field for co-operatives? Which specific issues need addressing? How do we increase our policy impact and reach? Insight from delegates will directly impact on our policy work and campaigns. 

18.30-19.00: First timers' session

19.00-19.30: Drinks reception

19.30-late: Networking buffet dinner

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Saturday 25 March

9.00-9.10: Welcome

Rose Marley, Co-operatives UK

A short welcome to attendees from CEO of Co-operatives UK, Rose Marley.

9.10-10.10: State of the nation – outlook for the UK market in a cost-of-living crisis

Dan Gillett, IGD

We're delighted to welcome back the ever-popular Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD) for Saturday's opening session. Using IGD’s latest UK trends for 2023 and 2024, IGD's UK Insight Manager, Dan Gillett, will take a deep dive into the outlook for the UK food and grocery market through the cost-of-living crisis. Using IGD’s latest macro-economic and consumption forecasts, Dan will explore how the industry and consumers will be impacted by financial challenges, legislation and emerging trends.

10.30-11.10: Shirine Khoury-Haq plenary and Q&A

Shirine Khoury-Haq, Co-op Group

The CEO of the UK's largest co-operative will deliver a keynote at this year's conference. As businesses and consumers wrestle with the cost-of-living crisis, Shirine Khoury-Haq will unveil key strategies for the Co-op Group in 2023. The plenary will be followed by a Q&A.

11.10-11.50: CEO panel discussion – Co-ops: the original ethical brands – maintaining position in a cluttered marketplace

Panel to be announced

A panel discussion featuring CEOs from a number of the UK's leading co-op retail societies, chaired by Rose Marley, Co-operatives UK.

13.10-14.00: Co-operatives: Making our marque

Don Morris, Chair, Co-operatives UK; Sheree Hatton, Suma; more speakers to be announced

How do marks and accreditations affect consumer attitudes to products and services? We will explore the opportunity for co-operative retailers to do more to expose consumers to the co-op marque – including on products – to increase consumers’ understanding of co-operatives and the co-operative difference.

14.00-15.00: Member engagement through digital innovation

Alison Bain and Parm Kalirai, MidCounties Co-op; Anders Mittag, Lobyco A/S

Digital innovation and transformation is critical in terms of shaping how people interact with co-operatives - including member engagement and participation as well as commercial aspects. So what do we mean by digital transformation and why is it relevant? Alison Bain and Parm Kalirai will take delegates through Midcounties' digital transformation journey, including the drivers for change; actions and innovations; early impacts and benefits; and future plans.

Coop Denmark is the leading consumer goods retailer in Denmark. A co-operative, it is owned by almost two million members and and has redefined customers' in-store experience through digital innovation. The customer loyalty platform, Lobyco, is the backbone of Coop Denmark's digital ecosystem. Lobyco's Anders Mittag will cover the steps Coop Denmark has taken (and sector trends in Europe more widely) including a focus on why the retailer's digital focus has been on economic and commercial benefits.

15.10-15.50: The truth about youth

There's a disengagement – broadly speaking – between younger people and co-operatives. Our research found that over half of young people (54%) cannot name a single co-operative while just 14% can name three or more. It translates to the boardroom with less than 8% of co-operative retail society directors aged between 26 and 41 (and none 25 or younger).

Yet co-operatives and younger people are a perfect fit. Co-operatives meet the demand for more ownership and control; for values-driven business; for good, secure jobs; for action on climate. Strong evidence from Co-operatives UK and the Institute of Economic Affairs backs up this view. So why do we have poor awareness and disengagement? How can we turn the tide? Are co-operative societies doing enough? And does it matter that engagement is low?

This session, featuring provocations from inside and outside the movement, is designed to test boundaries. It will explore the value of youth engagement, including what we're getting wrong (and right) and how we can improve without alienating other core audiences.   

16.00-16.45: Co-ops in communities

Speakers to be announced

This session will look at the cost-of-living crisis, how communities are being impacted and how co-ops can help.

16.45-17.15: An update from the Co-operative Party

Joe Fortune, Co-operative Party

An update from the Co-operative Party on campaigns currently running and their impact. 

17.20pm: Day one close

19.00-19.30: Drinks reception

19.30-late: Gala dinner with charity raffle and entertainment

Sunday 26 March

9.30-9.35: Day two welcome 

Rose Marley, Co-operatives UK

9.35-10.50: UN Sustainable Goals workshop

Blase Lambert, Confederation of Co-operative Housing (CCH)

A workshop on the UN Sustainable Goals and what they mean for your society. In the session, Blase Lambert will focus on the work of the Confederation of Co-operative Housing in creating its Wayshaper SDG toolkit and advice and how this toolkit can be useful to your societies. 

11.00: Day two close

Discounted tickets for Co‑operatives UK members
Enjoy the conference at a discount! Members enjoy significant reductions on events and training
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