The Co-operative Group has launched a new major research drive, in which it is calling on its customers and the general public to help shape the future of its business.
The 150-year-old organisation will be asking people how they think it can be better run, including how it distributes its profits among members and whether it should make political donations. It is also aiming to look at the key issues communities currently face and how these can be addressed.
The review follows months of turbulence, kicked off by the collapse of a deal to buy out 631 bank branches owned by Lloyds Banking Group. This revealed a £1.5 billion shortfall in the Co-operative Bank’s accounts and was also followed by allegations of drug abuse directed at former chairman Paul Flowers.
The troubles also led to the bank’s floatation of shares on the stock market, with 70% being sold off to private investors – including hedge funds. This led many to question whether it could remain an ethical alternative to the mainstream banks.
The Co-operative Group’s chief executive Euan Sutherland conceded that the organisation had “lost touch with its customers and members” in recent years, but said that this new research drive will be used to form the basis of the group’s wider strategic review.
“We will be asking people up and down the country what they believe the Co-operative should really stand for”, he said.
“This is an unprecedented move for an organisation of the size and the scale of the Co-operative and the results will feed directly into our wider review of strategy and purpose.”
He added, “In recent years the Co-operative has lost touch with its customers and members and with the communities in which it operates – we haven’t been listening. As a new management team we are focused on renewing the Co-operative and the UK public will be vital to that process.
“If we are to successfully serve the communities in which we operate, to become as relevant today as we were in the past, we need to hear directly from the communities and the people we serve. We have seen incredible loyalty from our customers, colleagues and members in recent months – now we want to reward that loyalty.”
You can take the survey here.