Press release

£100 million challenge on the table for retail co-operatives

Co-operatives UK will announce a ‘£100 million challenge’ for the co-operative retail sector at the Co-operative Retail Conference in Stratford ( taking place from 4 to 6 March, 2016). 

With 110,000 employees, staff recruitment is a significant cost for the UK’s customer owned retailers, making staff retention an important commercial concern.

Research puts the total cost of replacing a member of staff – which includes advertising, interviewing and administration, as well as productivity losses – at £30,000. Though the cost in retail is lower, estimated at around £20,000, this is a significant cost per employee.

Staff turnover in the retail sector is estimated to be at 40 per cent per year. Despite good practice from some businesses, particularly co-operatives, turnover levels are predicted to grow over the coming years and the annual cost of recruitment for co-operative retailers is tens of millions.

Evidence shows that businesses with a clear set of values shared among all staff perform better than those without, with the particular benefit that they enjoy lower levels of staff turnover because employees feel an emotional involvement in and commitment to the business.                 

Co-operative have the potential for an edge here. Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, who is leading a body of work on co-operative values, said: “As businesses guided by internationally agreed values and principles co-operatives are uniquely placed to benefit from shared values across the staff team. These values are brought to life in a variety of ways, but can form a bedrock for a co-operative’s culture and behavior.

“Making the most of these values presents a fantastic opportunity for co-operative retailers. Every one per cent reduction in staff turnover results in a significant saving for retail co-operatives - to the tune of £21 million - and £14 million of that would be for The Co-operative Group.

“It is not unreasonable to lay down a ‘£100 million challenge’ to UK retail co-operatives – to set a target, over time, of realising £100 million worth of gains on an annual basis, through reduced staff turnover.”

The Co-operative Retail Conference, organised by Co-operatives UK, takes place in Stratford-upon-Avon and features speakers on key issues for the sector, with a theme of employee engagement running across the event. Read more news from the conference.