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Co-operative Retail Conference

Co-op Retail Conference 2022

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

The Co-operative Retail Conference 2022 takes place from Friday 11 March to Sunday 13 March at Wychwood Park Hotel in Weston (near Crewe, Cheshire). 

What's in store?

Set over three days, the conference is a vibrant mix of expert speakers and shared learning from across co-operative retail societies. We work best when we co-operate. Here's some highlights:

Friday 11 March

6.30–7.00pm: First timers session

7.00–7.30pm: Drinks reception

7.30pm–Late: Buffet dinner

Saturday 12 March

9–9.15am: Welcome

  • Rose Marley, CEO, Co-operatives UK

9.15–10.10am: Retail trends and analysis with IGD

  • Rhian Thomas, IGD

The ever-popular Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD) are back! Rhian Thomas, Head of Shopper Insight, will provide insight into the wants and needs of today's consumers and predictions and analysis on future trends. Rhian will look at retail tech, sustainability, competition, and explore untapped opportunities with trusted data, insight and opinion (from a UK and global perspective). And of course there'll be a spotlight on the co-operative sector. 

10.10–10.30am: Refreshment break

10.30–11.15am: Navigating the post-Covid landscape:  Challenges and opportunities

  • Jonathan Reynolds, Saïd Business School

Change is a constant in the retail sector, but the last two years have witnessed unprecedented external challenges to the cost structure and profitability of retail firms. As we emerge into a new retail landscape, and drawing on the latest research, this session poses three questions for consideration: What are the economic challenges that will be faced by retailers during pandemic recovery? How will technology influence stores and channels of the future? And what are the longer-term implications for retail real estate, towns and cities of the changes we have experienced during the pandemic: which centres will be winners, and which losers?

11.15am–12pm: Principle 6: Solidarity among retail societies

  • Aaron Stewart and Linda Barlow, Co-operative Law Association

The retail sector is facing unprecedented pressure from online sales accelerated by Covid and new entrants into the market from the likes of Amazon Go. Aaron Stewart and Linda Barlow, of the newly formed Co-operative Law Association, will explore how solidarity among retail co-operatives could help overcome online challenges, while at the same time navigating competition law risk.

12–12.15pm: Refreshment break

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

12.15–1.15pm: Building a movement

  • Ursula Lidbetter, Lincolnshire Co-operative
  • Phil Ponsonby, Midcounties Co-operative
  • Denise Scott-McDonald, Co-op Group

With the rise of conscious capitalism and ‘business for good’, have we lost our way in effectively communicating the attributes of co-operation in the modern world and if so, what do we need to do to change that?

Guided by a stalwart of co-operation Ursula Lidbetter, Lincolnshire Co-operative has invested in a Science and Innovation park, Midcounties Co-operative's Phil Ponsonby is leading the charge on ‘easy, ethical and everyday’ utilities and both are major contributors to local community wealth. Meanwhile as the president of the Co-op Group National Members Council, and deputy leader of a co-op council, Denise Scott–McDonald has some of the world’s most dedicated co-operators in her sphere, so how then, do we capitalise on these attributes of co-operation and so many more into a meaningful, joined up movement that is further empowered to build a better world?

CEO of Co-operatives UK Rose Marley, will share her thinking on the new brand refresh and the promotion of the co-op marque and invite panel members into a discussion on how we ‘cut through the noise’ to create meaningful member experiences.

1.15–2.15pm: Lunch break

2.15–3.30pm: Planting trees you'll never see: How to engage young people

  • Ewan Vinnicombe-Wallis, Media Executive and former Blue Peter editor
  • Debbie Robinson, Central England Co-operative

As Blue Peter editor for a decade, Ewan Vinnicombe-Wallis was responsible for the multi-channel engagement of young audiences. Ewan was responsible for reinvigorating the Blue Peter Badge scheme; transitioning to iPlayer and social media; and editing live broadcast shows... while at the same time helping celebrities jump out of planes and organising royal visits! Ewan’s vast experience in engaging children in competitions and campaigns will be both enlightening and informative.

Co-operatives UK CEO Rose Marley will also explore – with Ewan – how the experience of a brand at a young age builds affinity, loyalty and a deep routed understanding of the values of a brand. Central England Co-operative CEO Debbie Robinson, will also provide a case study on their work in the community with children and their families, followed by a panel discussion.

3.30–3.45pm: Refreshment break

3.45–4.10pm: The Apprenticeship Levy

  • Russell Gill, Co-op Group

Does your society make effective use of the Apprenticeship Levy - and the option of gifting up to 25% of levy funds to support other organisations. This session will challenge society leaders to think about their own co-operative's levy contributions - and will also introduce delegates to The Co-op Levy Share service, which has been created to support under-representation. To enhance discussions, we would like delegates to consider their answers to the following three questions:

  • Does your co-operative pay the Apprenticeship Levy?
  • If paid, what is your society's annual levy bill?
  • What value of the levy is utilised within your society?

4.10–4.40pm: Campaigning for shop workers

  • Joe Fortune, The Co-operative Party

It’s unacceptable for retail shop workers to feel unsafe at work. The pandemic exacerbated levels of abuse while at the same time highlighting the essential  service these very same retail shop workers provide in their communities. Retail societies are playing a prominent role in campaigning to achieve better protections for retail workers. Joe Fortune, General Secretary of The Co-operative Party, will share details on campaign progress and next steps.

4.40–4.50pm: Closing remarks

  • Rose Marley, CEO, Co-operatives UK

4.50–6.30pm: Break

6.30–7pm: Drinks Reception

7–9pm: Three-course gala dinner

9–9.15pm: Charity raffle

9.15pm–Late: Entertainment by Academy of Soul

Sunday 13 March

9–9.30am: Screening of Co-operative Heritage Trust Film 

A virtual tour of the Rochdale Pioneers Musuem

9.30–11am: Workshop: Innovation and growth for your co-op

  • Naomi Timperley, We Are GSI & Tech North Advocates

Innovation and growth is key to ensuring your co-op is ahead of the curve and technology is a main enabler to that. Join Naomi Timperley from We Are GSI & Tech North Advocates to unlock the creative power of a brainstorming session that aims to solve problems and find opportunity in facilitated group work discussions.

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