To Nick Goodway in the London Evening Standard it looks more like a ‘massive public relations exercise than a genuine “want to know what you think”.’ He’s talking about the Co-op’s Have Your Say survey, now under way, which gives you the chance to tell ‘the Group’ what you think of it. Yes, the top chaps at the Co-op acknowledge that
… it’s time to change. But not until we’ve heard what you have to say. That’s because making decisions with you, not for you, remains at the very heart of everything we do. It’s the co-operative way. We want your views on a range of topics, from how we source our products to our work in the community.
Group chief executive Euan Sutherand, confesses that the Co-op has “lost touch with its customers and members and the communities in which it operates . . . We haven’t been listening.” It’s the sort of statement of total failure you might expect to hear from a business going into liquidation.
But Sutherland denies that asking the public for guidance is an indicator of cluelessness. In the FT he is quote as saying: “It doesn’t mean we are not leading. I came in and fired the entire executive team across the group and the bank in three weeks, recapitalised the bank and identified that we needed to bring the cost base down by £500m … We need to stop copying the purely commercial model – the plc model – and start to do things that are right for us as a co-op. We’ve been through huge trauma . . . but have an opportunity to be different.”
Absent from the discussion, so far as we can see, is any mention of member control.
Here at the GFG we’re not going to fill in the survey, even though that means passing up a chance of winning a Panasonic HD LED TV. Mr Tinning and his people know exactly what we think of them and this has earned us their detestation. Ach, you can only do your best.
We have only one piece of further advice to offer The Co-op. Intervene in the market in the best interests of your members. Simples. Get the prices and service right, cut out the upselling, excise all incompetence and only then agonise over what you’re going to do with your profits.
Hat-tip to SL