Store Manager Amelia shares her experience working with ‘One Best Way’

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I’m Amelia – I’ve worked for the co-op as a store manager for 10 months in the Bristol area, and I recently completed a secondment with the One Best Way programme.

The main goal was to get out to visit stores to understand the complexity in our back and middle office processes, and how we can make them leaner.

During my secondment I visited 15 stores, and I loved engaging with store managers. It was great gaining insight on how we could better support our stores with simplified processes to better serve our customers. The reaction from colleagues to the work we were completing was fantastic! I couldn’t have asked for more openness and honesty to aid myself and the team in gathering the data.

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Discussing back office processes in store

I thoroughly enjoyed the variety of the secondment, engaging with key stakeholders, working with store colleagues and experts in the business and challenging the norm by being constantly curious. At times I surprised myself- I even participated in a One Best Way Podcast – I wouldn’t have put myself forward to take part in a podcast before! I also particularly enjoyed looking into the stream surrounding fuel, as this is in area I have never worked with before.

Although I found it intense at times – seeing the outputs made it all the more worthwhile. We’ve now mapped the theoretical and actual processes and identified some key opportunities and recommendations for the business to focus on.

One of the most important things the secondment taught me was the need for change and how I could play a part in co-creating it. I worked with a fantastic team of people across the country and have further built my own personal network. I was made to feel so welcome by all at the Retail Support Centre at 1AS and can honestly say it felt like home for the 4 weeks I was there.

I would definitely recommend secondment opportunities as a great experience to anyone. I now feel like I’ve walked back into my store re-energised with my eyes wide open, and have already been looking at the way we complete tasks in a different light.

Amelia-Jane Statham

Store Manager, Henleaze

Andy Young & Ben Flannery are setting the right plan to achieve the Co-op Food strategy

We’re the Strategic Planning team, which is part of Governance & Assurance in the Transformation & Retail Support Centre. We’ve just kicked off the annual Strategic Planning Cycle (SPC) and we’re gearing up for a busy few months. The SPC process is used by Co-op Food to do two things:

  • Firstly, to confirm we’re heading in the right direction to achieve our five year ambition of Stronger Co-op, Stronger Communities. Which is defined brilliantly by a term Ben found: coddiwomple “to travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination”. I’m not saying our ambition is vague, but we’re flexible to the market and we can pivot and remain agile to all the headwinds we may encounter on the journey.
  • Then we’ll review our current plans and retail risks, alongside future trends and potential impacts – helping us to establish the activity that will enable us to deliver our ambition.

Working across the Co-op

At the moment we’re working with key functions: Finance, IT and Customer – holding workshops and sessions across the Co-op to gather of all the great ideas, insight and establish the latest vision of the future. Supporting and helping functions to ensure we’re focusing in the right areas to build a Stronger Co-op, Stronger Communities together.

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Planning the coddiwomple

 

Building the plan

In the coming weeks we’ll pull all of this information together, alongside our current portfolio of programmes and projects (Andy’s favourite part). Building the plan for our Co-op to deliver for colleagues, members, customers and their communities.

Tweaking the process

Over the last few SPCs we’ve listened and recognised the food retail environment and customer expectations are changing faster now, than they ever have before. So, going forward we’re making sure our plan is flexible and we can assess change regularly (Andy’s new favourite part). As a result we’re making the SPC an ‘always on’ process, with two key builds:

  • Monthly reviews of new ideas and proposed initiatives, to ensure we tackle any new headwinds or disruption to our 5 year ambition.
  • Quarterly reviews of the portfolio, to make sure we’re focusing on delivering the right initiatives and managing our resources effectively.

We’ll let you know how our coddiwomple is working out

Keep an eye out for updates on our progress over the summer. We’ll share how we’re building the plan and the critical paths that will deliver some great benefits for our Co-op, colleagues, members and customers. Your engagement and support is much appreciated, and once the plan is finished we all get behind it and deliver our part.

Andy & Ben

The Food Transformation team have joined with the Retail Support Centre

It’s been a busy few weeks of change for all in the Food Transformation team, which is something that they’re used to… because they’re the people that look after the Co-op’s large portfolio of change activity for Food and Retail.

Their job is to ensure everyone is aligned, ready to receive the changes, and ultimately to make stores a great place to work for colleagues, easy for members and customers to shop in and build a Co-op for the next generation of members.

These are exciting times for the new joined up team. We’ve all worked together before and, along with colleagues from across the Co-op, we’ve helped to develop some great digital products: ‘How do I’ and ‘Shifts’. With the Transformation team alongside the Retail Support Centre team, we can be confident of developing further initiatives, bringing our expertise together to help achieve our ambition of a Stronger Co-op, Stronger Communities for the future.

There are three main focus areas for the Transformation office:

First, the Governance team works across the Co-op to identify potential new programmes and projects, then helps the Transformation team decide which to do. After that they keep everybody honest, so the Food Portfolio delivers what they’ve said they’ll deliver and on schedule – ensuring they use our time wisely and spend the Co-op’s money like it’s their own!

Next, the Portfolio Management Office makes sure all of the planned changes are meaningful and delivered well. They also provide a centre of excellence for all things programme and project management related e.g. methodologies, tools, resources, and the people who can support the process when needed – enabling and guiding the Portfolio.

Finally, the Food Portfolio team ensures we all deliver the programmes and projects that the wider teams agreed to and ensures it’s done well! They do this by sharing plans and goals across the Co-op, helping to build a platform to support activity for colleagues, members and customers.

Smartphone product scanner and part of the pay in aisle trial. Picture by Chris Bull

The Transformation & Retail Support Centre teams will continue listening and designing solutions with colleagues, for colleagues by harnessing your passion and energy. We know by working with our stores, logistics and here in Angel Square, together, as One Co-op we can…

  • Develop simple, intuitive projects and solutions for colleagues
  • Create meaningful experiences and shopping trips for members & customers
  • Deliver sustainable change supported by everyone in the Co-op
  • Build a stronger Co-op for the future
  • Connect with all of our communities and strengthen the links

We’re working on some critical plans that will deliver some great benefits for our Co-op, colleagues, members and customers – your engagement and support is much appreciated.

Watch this space and we’ll keep you updated on our key progress, successes and let us know what you think too! We know that change is hard, but any retail business that isn’t transforming will leave themselves open to disruption. So please, do support and get behind what’s on the plan. 

In-Store Bakery: How colleagues are shaping change

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We recently launched some great improvements to our ISB production pad. It’s been an interesting journey, and a great example of how colleagues in stores can shape the changes that remove complexity.

The new ISB production Pad is a move away from the old paper based process – our stores now receive their ISB pad via email with all the information they need for the following day’s bakes. The forecast shows the predicted sales for the next day and is generated using 2 year’s worth of sales data, as well as other factors including weather, seasonal events and waste.

Shaped by Colleague Insight

Store colleagues have been crucial in helping us design and launch the new process, and it has been their feedback and insight that has shaped the new tool. We had some great insights from colleagues on the new process (To read about how our West Didsbury store’s experience, click here ). After our initial trial we learned from colleagues that the tool needed some improvements.

Stores told us they’d would like us to change the look, feel and grouping of products – we changed this and have received really positive feedback. Colleagues also told us about the improvements they’d like to see in our forecast. We’ve already increased the forecast across a range of products, and we’re also working on sending out the forecast earlier in the day.  Additionally, we listened to colleague views on changing the AM and PM quantity split to help improve store efficiency and simplicity.  We have now updated this, so there will be more efficient bakes in place.

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We haven’t stopped yet

We want to thank store colleagues for your support in landing the changes, and we will continue to put this insight at the heart of the further ISB Improvements we have planned for later in 2018. We’re looking to remove the current pad completely towards the end of the year, so you’re only using the new and improved automated version – we’ll update you as soon as we can, stay tuned!

 

Operational Assessments – A Catalyst for Change

Over the past 3 months our Field Risk Support Officers (FRSO’s) have been out across the estate visiting stores and connecting with colleagues, embarking on a huge programme of Store Operational Assessments.

These assessments are critical to our achieving one clear objective – to make our stores safe and legal for colleagues and customers. They are key to helping us identify where our risks are, identifying improvements and opportunities in store, and to help us gain insight on how our operating model is being executed. Through the course of Q1 the team has now completed 270 operational assessments, each one measuring over 200 standards in stores, covering all elements of operations and compliance.

Understanding what is and isn’t working

The assessments have brought a more collaborative approach than the previous audits, and our FRSO’s have been spending hundreds of hours in stores, talking to our colleagues to really understand how we can improve. It’s a new approach for us because we aren’t just looking at Health & safety, but at our entire operating model.

Learning from colleagues

As well as aiming to understand how our operating model is landing, and how we are meeting our legal requirements, the key element is ensuring that we learn from colleagues on what is working and what isn’t. It’s been a huge success and we’ve gained some fantastic insight from our colleagues. Colleagues are helping us to understand how complex our processes are for them, and whilst we need to protect our stores, we need to do this in a way that removes complexity for our colleagues. The assessments also help us to validate and check that the changes we make as a business are working and continuing to make our co-op great.

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Our Chalfont store team with FRSO Ragesh

Coaching for performance

Its important that this activity isn’t just an information gathering exercise. The SOAR report is also a great tool to help store teams create their own action plan to improve standards. And our FRSOs are making the time to coach and upskill store teams based on their findings and using How Do I as a reference guide.

What’s next?

It is important to remember that the assessments are not a change but they can be the catalyst for change. The Retail Risk health & Safety Team are now engaging with key stakeholders across the business to review these insights and understand what activity is in progress to protect against risks and make things easier for stores whilst agreeing next steps and commitments. As we move in to Q2 the second Operational Assessment cycle has already started and will see our FRSO’s complete a further 400 SOARs in Q2.

 

 

Shifts: The story so far

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Shifts is our brand new mobile website made especially for Co-op Food colleagues, to enable you to view schedules on mobile devices, as well as on the normal in-store rota.

Back in early 2017 we got together with our colleagues in Digital to think of ways to help colleagues working in-store. By the end of the summer we’d whittled down many ideas to 3 potential new products and services:

  1. Shifts (formerly My Schedule)
  2. Task Manager
  3. How do I?

Then, we got to work with colleagues from across the business, including those in-store, to see what we could achieve.

I want to talk to you about Shifts. On Monday 23 April we’ll open the website for all Co-op Food colleagues to use if you would like to, after just over a year of working to make this product the best it can be.

The road to launching Shifts

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It’s been a long yet fast-paced road of working on Shifts, always with colleague-users in mind. It’s our colleague-users, those in-store who’ll be using this product from Monday, who have been helping shape Shifts with their feedback and insight from the shop floor.

Once we’ve launched Shifts to the Co-op Food colleague community, we’ll be looking at updates and new features to launch this Summer. We’ll keep you updated on our progress on this blog and on the Co-op Colleagues Facebook Page.

Watch our live Show and Tell

Together with my colleague Paul we hosted a Show & Tell last night on YouTube for colleagues interested in how we developed Shifts, with the opportunity to ask questions in live chat. You can watch a recording of the show and tell on Co-op YouTube.

What colleagues had to say about Shifts

I have to thank the hundreds of colleagues from stores across the country who worked with us on trialing Shifts in both the Alpha (first stage testing) and Beta (second stage testing). Without you, the product wouldn’t be what it is. Here’s what colleagues had to say about Shifts:

https://youtu.be/Fmxm2nePQDM

Thanks again to everyone involved in creating Shifts. Access Shifts from 23 April at coop.co.uk/shifts

Chris Ward

Product Manager

Showing we Care – Old Uniforms to benefit the Salvation Army

As Shakespeare once said “clothes maketh the man” and this is certainly true of the image we try to portray to our customers and members through our Co-op uniform. As advocates of our brand, it ensures customers know colleagues are part of the team and the community.

Taking pride in appearance is important to our store colleagues. At the Retail Support Centre we try to guarantee colleagues can access the right uniform at the right time, as we recognise the lasting impression a poor or incorrect uniform can give our customers and members.

All Change

Over the years we have seen many variations of the uniform, and with each new style we have stacked stock high to allow colleagues to access what they need, when they need it. This has left us with a massive amount of legacy stock that we have already paid for but can no longer use.

The launch of our new pioneer brand, and the move away from the Black and Green uniform, has given the Retail Loss and Costs team an opportunity to complete a full review of the stock we have, and we have identified 14 lines, over 2000 items, which are now surplus stock. This includes shirts, trousers, skirts and polos, some of which haven’t been part of our uniform for several years! These are all new, good quality items which, after a little bit of de-branding, can be put to good use elsewhere.

Showing we care by doing what matters most

Working in partnership with our uniform supplier Dimensions, and our own internal Customer and Community team, we have identified one of our many charity partners to help us distribute this surplus clothing to people who can make good use of it. And so after months of ground work, 84 boxes of clothing, nearly £20,000 of stock, have been distributed to help people in other areas of the country.

Our community partner, The Salvation Army, have distributed this stock to its many charity shops around the UK, allowing people to purchase a bargain and help a good cause in the process. The Salvation Army allows us to distribute on a wide scale whilst still supporting causes close to our Co-op heart – modern slavery, homelessness and people in poverty.

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It’s not always about saving money

Often the bearers of bad news, the Retail Loss and Costs team are not usually the ones to give money away! However, we are constantly working with other Retail Support Centre teams to ensure the best outcome is achieved for all our Colleagues, Customers and Members.

Being able to fix problems in the background allows the team to see things from a different perspective, and this is just one example where the result is absolutely not about saving money, but about doing what matters most for us all in a Simple, Meaningful and Sustainable way.

Sarah Bedwell, Retail Loss & Costs