Euro Coop

2024 General Assembly in Lichfield, UK

2024 General Assembly in Lichfield, UK

The Euro Coop General Assembly convened in the historic city of Lichfield, hosted by Central Co-op at their Support Centre. This year's assembly held special significance as we celebrate the 180th anniversary of the Rochdale Pioneers, who laid the foundations of the co-operative movement, when they established the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers in 1844.

 

A Historic Welcome in Lichfield

On June 12th, the arrival day for delegates, Central Co-op organised an exclusive tour of Lichfield's historic venues. Led by local guide Jono, delegates explored the city's rich heritage, including its renowned medieval cathedral and peculiar Georgian buildings. The evening concluded with a dinner featuring quality local produce from nearby suppliers. Delegates enjoyed wine tasting, celebrating Co-op Fairtrade Wines and Award-Winning Champagne.

 

Day of Insight and Innovation

On June 13th, the main day of the general assembly, delegates visited three Central Co-op stores in Lichfield, guided by the Central Co-op Leadership Team. Central Co-op, established in 1854, now employs 7,500 people and operates across 21 counties in England. In 2022, Central Co-op achieved a significant milestone by reaching £1 billion in sales. The same year saw the adoption of the universally recognized ICA logo and a rebranding to Central Co-op from Central England Co-operative. Today, Central Co-op serves its 330,000 active member-owners by operating 255 food stores, 18 petrol stations, and 7 coffee shops, with business interests extending to funeral services and 9 florists.

The food store visits highlighted various aspects of community retailing and innovative practices:

 Boley Park - Large Community Store

A flagship for community retailing. With a focus on people innovation, cost-efficiency measures, and the Central Co-op Malawi Partnership. Launched in 2022, this partnership aims to alleviate poverty in Malawi by supporting local producers and farmers through the sale of Malawian products. The initiative works with the Malawi Federation of Co-operatives (MAFECO), helping to bolster Malawi’s trading capacity. From the lush tea fields to macadamia nut harvests, each product symbolizes resilience and community spirit.

 Streethay - Local Community Retailing and Green Energy

At the Streethay store, the focus is on Central Co-op’s commitment to green energy self-sufficiency. Discussions covered property management and store efficiency plans, demonstrating how sustainability is integrated into everyday operations.

 Curborough Road - Local Store Proposition and Safety Initiatives

The visit to the Curborough Road store emphasised local community retailing, Central Co-op’s membership proposition, and colleague safety initiatives. These efforts underscore Central Co-op’s dedication to creating safe, efficient, and community-focused retail environments.

General Assembly Proceedings

Following the store visits, delegates gathered for the General Assembly at the Central Co-op Support Centre. 

Members approved the President and Secretary-General reports and adopted the financial and activity reports for 2023, along with the calendar of upcoming events. The assembly also ratified changes in board representation for the following national organisations:

 KF Sweden, represented by Therese Knapp, Public Affairs & Press Manager.

 Coop Jednota Slovakia, represented by Renáta Peťovská, Chief Commercial Officer.

Post-assembly, the Euro Coop Secretariat organised a strategic session. This first group discussion on Euro Coop's strategic and operational priorities for 2024/2025 aimed to engage members and adapt Euro Coop's activities to their priorities. 

Co-op Congress in Birmingham

On June 14th, delegates traveled to Birmingham to attend the two-day Co-op Congress organised by Co-operatives UK. This event provided an invaluable opportunity for Euro Coop delegates to exchange ideas and learn about the latest initiatives by the UK co-op movement in community service, member engagement and empowering the youth. The Congress featured an international supper - sponsored by Central Co-op, where a mix of UK and international speakers presented initiatives fostering global collaboration and shared learning. Debbie Robison - Central Co-op CEO presented the Malawi Project while Pete Westall - Midcounties Co-operative Chief Values Officer presented the establishment of the International Development Fund of the UK movement. Marco Pedroni - ANCC/Coop Italy President gave a keynote address on the potential of international co-operation and the value of uniting Euro Coop members’ vast capacity to working together for generating benefits for our millions of members and their local communities in these continued challenging times. Mathias Fiedler - Euro Coop President presented Co-operatives UK with an award on the occasion of the 180th anniversary of the Rochdale Pioneers for their contribution - on behalf of the entire UK co-op movement - to the safeguarding and promotion of the co-op principles and heritage. 

Looking Ahead

The assembly highlighted the co-operative movement’s steadfast dedication to innovation, sustainability, and community values. Looking ahead, the insights and collaborations from this assembly and the Co-op Congress will be crucial in advancing Euro Coop's mission of sustainable and ethical retail. The 2024 Euro Coop General Assembly in Lichfield not only celebrated our rich heritage but also served as a catalyst for future strategies. 

By honoring the Rochdale Pioneers and tackling modern challenges, Euro Coop remains at the forefront of co-operative retail, championing sustainability, innovation, and community engagement. 

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