Charles Cowling


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

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Simon Lamb
Simon Lamb
7 years ago

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… Read more »

andrew plume
andrew plume
7 years ago
Reply to  Simon Lamb

a very good piece Simon

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



andrew plume
andrew plume
7 years ago

……….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… Read more »

andrew plume
andrew plume
7 years ago

thx Charles



David Holmes
7 years ago

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.