The Good Funeral Guide Blog

Dead loss

Thursday, 17 April 2014

outsideweb

The Co-op’s stated aims

  • To be a commercially successful business
  • To meet the needs of our customers and the communities we serve*
  • To respond to our members and share our profits
  • To be an ethical leader
  • To be an exemplary employer
  • To inspire others through co-operation

Co-operative Group results 2013

Overall loss: £2.3 billion

Funeralcare sales for 2013 £370m – 3.4% up on 2012.

Underlying F’care operating profit increased 3.3% to £62.1m.

In 2013, F’care opened 16 new funeral homes, invested £3.1 million in crematoria development and £9.5 million in its fleet of vehicles.

In December, a new website was launched to allow customers to purchase, as well as manage, a pre-paid funeral plan online.

More whitewash here

“Those directors are now locked in a defensive mindset which makes intervention by the Bank of England and the Treasury all the more likely in the end. The walk-on part of Lord Myners is, I fear, no more than a sideshow in the slow procession towards the crematorium of this once great institution.”
Martin Vander Weyer in the Spectator

*One in five people struggle to pay for a funeral

7 comments on “Dead loss

  1. Simon Lamb

    Friday 18th April 2014 at 10:49 am

    Terry Leahy went on to be the successful boss of Tesco but started his career at the Co-Op. This is what he has to say about it, in his ‘Management in Ten Words’ (published in 2012).
    “The Co-Op’s roots were in the workers movement, in the days before socialism. It’s founders, and those who worked for it when I joined, had a strong belief in democracy and social justice. Owned and run by its members, it attracted very well-meaning, compassionate people, motivated by a wish to do their bit to help those less fortunate in society. It was all very laudable – but the ends (democracy and social justice) began to dictate the means of achieving those goals. The Co-Op was managed as a democracy. Taking a decision took an age as everyone had a say, so no one was really in charge. What’s morse, even though it had been set up with the noble intention to serve every customer, irrespective of their means, the customer’s voice actually got lost in the babble of views and debate. No one was quite sure what the organisation was there to do. Was it to give work to people, or improve society, or win customers, or make a profit? A basic question, but one that was never answered. I quickly learnt that values matter not just in terms of what you want to achieve, but how you set about achieving your goals. Without a clear process strong values and noble ambitions remain just words.” Pages 113-114

    • andrew plume

      Friday 18th April 2014 at 1:31 pm

      a very good piece Simon

      a right royal mess indeed – I suggest again, that they start from the beginning

      regards

      andrew

  2. andrew plume

    Thursday 17th April 2014 at 10:01 pm

    ……….and yes, Charles, this is indeed a right marvellous mess……………………….

    the Co-op Group per se had obviously intended to ‘take on the UK’ and up the stakes generally but unfortunately it’s antiquated business model at board level/local level plus some very die hard individuals who are clearly opposed to change has meant that some of their recent acquisitions have clearly failed. In other words, this business should have maintained a lower profile and not been assertive in acquisitions or they should have employed the proper management to do the job. The upshot is that they’ve literally fallen in the middle and senior management has become way too big ‘for their proverbial’

    ….and as I’ve said on here before (and ratified by David) any sale of the F’care business to a consortium of ‘Vulture Capital (sic) Funds’, means one result only, i.e. prices across the board will immediately ‘be yanked up’……..after all, Dignity are way out there with their prices, ‘Indy’s’ on the whole are ‘down there’, so there’s plenty of middle ground for this businesses prices to be increased

    I’m assuming that any approaches the Board have received from ‘VC funds’ to acquire F’care have so far been rebutted………..personally I would really like to see the Group per se go down the drain and for the separate businesses to be individually acquired and ‘to start up again’, having said that I would of course prefer for there to be a minimal amount of job losses at ‘coal face levels’ etc etc. If this happens and it’s clearly not improbable, then a purchaser of F’care has a real chance to attack ‘funeral poverty’ and to bring the pricing structure down to a far more reasonable level………………(or maybe not)………………..

    btw Charles is the reference to a loss of £2.3b to the Group per se and not F’care?

    and yes, I’ve just seen your post………..I’m sure that they ‘clearly hate me too’……….after all I’ve probably been one of their most persistent critics………of course as I’ve said on here more than once (sic), this could so have very easily have been avoided……..there’s no need for me to go into further detail, there are plenty of links on this site to pick up all of my comments

    best regards

    andrew

    • Thursday 17th April 2014 at 11:03 pm

      Andrew, first things first: yes, of course, Group results £2.3 billion, not Funeralcare. I have made the appropriate edit. Very silly of me.

      • andrew plume

        Thursday 17th April 2014 at 11:40 pm

        thx Charles

        best

        andrew

  3. Thursday 17th April 2014 at 9:04 pm

    A bad day, for sure, David. But the chaps in the Funeralcare bunker loathe and detest the GFG with a passion, I am reliably informed, and I take this to be a victory for consumer scrutiny. If this little outpost of the internet has damaged it commercially and reputationally, think what a little more consumer awareness can achieve. Caveat emptor.

    I don’t know what Dignity thinks of us. It is a most brilliantly schtum organisation.

  4. Thursday 17th April 2014 at 8:27 pm

    I think the funeralcare business is the part most likely to be sold to rescue the Co-op Group. Watch this space, if this happens it’ll certainly shake-up the UK funeral industry. Prices would certainly rise still further as whomever bought it scrabbled to maximise their return. The £62 million profit for the year is impressive – if you like that kind of thing. If and when the sale goes ahead, it’ll be a bad day for consumers, although in my opinion, the existing target driven, warehousing set-up does not serve families well.

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