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

56A0F0FD-F987-4E56-A9E0-EF2117ECFEA4

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.

c2977074-ff6a-402f-849e-df77fe0aa794-e1529576423119.jpeg
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.

Planning
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. 

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.

image 3

image 2

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

Listening to colleagues in the Support Centre

Thursday 15 March saw 17 store colleagues gather in Angel Square’s ‘Innovation Centre’, a nerve centre of ideas and future store concepts from the Leading the Way team.

They were there to take part in March’s Store Manager Listening Session arranged by ourselves in Colleague Insight, a day that’s designed to provide an opportunity to hear from teams around the business, offer feedback on existing or upcoming pieces of work, and give us their thoughts and feelings on how things are for them currently.

An extra bonus of the day was an hour’s chat with our Retail Chief Executive, Jo Whitfield. The chance for an hour’s conversation with the boss is a rare one, and Jo was very willing to hear a “warts and all” view of the challenges our store colleagues are facing at the moment. You can read more about this on the Colleague Insight intranet pages.

Jo&Crew
Jo Whitfield speaks to store colleagues during our Listening Session

 

As well as hearing from them, Jo was able to give an update on how things looked from her perspective and gave some pointers about what was to come up for Food in the rest of the year.

She left the group with 3 key messages to take back to their colleagues in store;

  1. Believe in the plan
  2. Put the customer first
  3. Look after our colleagues

As well as Jo, several business areas from around the Support Centre were able to sit and talk through their world with the colleagues present, asking for the current feelings on how things work at the store level.

Among the topics discussed were store KPIs, the communications cascade and the top shelves project, where the comments and experiences of the colleagues were extremely useful in deciding what we do in the future.

They also had the chance to talk to a project manager from the wider Co-op team who discussed the very early stages of a new training project.

The learnings from a day like this feed into our quarterly hackathons, and help us keep the voice of the colleague front and centre in the minds of all in the Retail Support Centre.

By the time you’re reading this we’ll have just finished Quarter 1’s Hackathon, an event where we gather 50+ colleagues in a big room and, as well as hearing about current projects, we get them involved in shaping future projects, working out solutions to the things that they’re facing.

If you’d like to be involved in either type of session in the future (and they’re not all held in Manchester), then email the team at colleagueinsight@coop.co.uk and we’ll be in touch telling you when the next session is.

Keeping our Stores Resilient

Keeping our Stores Resilient

Our role as the Retail Resilience and Response Team is to be the first to react when issues or incidents cause disruption to our stores. It’s our job to provide the intensive support our colleagues need by ensuring that any incidents that affect them are understood and dealt with quickly to allow our stores to continue to trade.

Resilience

Maintaining Continuity

It’s unavoidable that sometimes incidents will impact our shops, and when this does happen, it’s our role to act as the interface between Stores and Support Centre functions to ensure that normal operations resume as soon as possible. Central to this is providing a 24 hour response to critical incidents that require business continuity or RIMT (Retail Incident Management Team) invocation.

We do this by acting as a co-ordinator for the Stores behalf, providing a hyper-care  process, liaising closely with support desks and performing root cause analysis of incidents. We escalate issues where required and instigate wider business continuity plans  in order to gain traction to resolve issues and return stores to trading with minimal effort and impact to the store.

Support when it’s needed most

Just last week, colleagues at our store in Nursling were affected by a serious armed robbery.  When opening the store, colleagues were subject to a robbery during which four men armed with crowbars took money out the safe and tills, and all the cigarettes from the gantry. The two colleagues were locked in the office, with cages barricaded against the door.

In the aftermath of the incident, the Resilience and Response team co-ordinated a great response from key support centre functions to minimise the disruption to the store and to support colleagues.  Colleague welfare was prioritised, with affected colleagues referred to counselling. In addition to this, the team sent in the store’s Risk officer to provide further support, arranged for replacement till drawers, and equalised the stores hours.

We also supported the store with the many other fixes they needed to help get them up and running – including looking at hours with TARA and chasing work orders with the Facilities team, and in this instance the store was able to resume trading later that day.

 “It was amazing service from everyone, absolutely amazing – Emily from Response has been absolutely wonderful – all the store managers to Area Managers right up to our Divisional Managing Director have been brilliant, the level of support you brought in from the Response team has been amazing

Jan, Nursing Store.         

When our stores face disruption, we’re there to support them through it, but it doesn’t end there. To ensure we can continue to co-ordinate this support, in the background we’re continually gathering data and insight for analysis which is crucial to enable the business to make informed decisions to drive continuous improvement. This means we can continue to be there to provide the best possible support for store colleagues when they need us most.