My post this morning about the Co-operative Group has brought in an interesting response from Nick Money of Co-operative Business Consultants, which I’d encourage you to read. (You click the ‘comments’ link to the side of the original piece; I’m sorry responses don’t immediately show up).
Nick’s comments permit me to expand a little on the question of the Group’s 2013 trading loss. It is a familiar tactic, if you’re going to make a loss, to try to see if it’s possible to pile as many of the losses as you can into one financial year – it all helps later on when profits are made, when you can demonstrate just how cleverly you’ve turned things around. So I think there may well be an element of this in the Co-op Group’s case – and, as Nick says, the Bank will be contributing a major part of the 2013 headline losses. But I am not convinced that the Group’s core retail business is on an even keel yet. My own local store does not precisely exude an air of strong management input.
The Group at present is a conglomeration of businesses, in many cases accumulated by the coop movement over more than 100 years. Converting the ‘non-core’ businesses (pharmacy or insurance, say) into separate independent coops is an interesting suggestion. And why not, whilst we’re at it, arrange to have strong employee input in these new coops’ governance structures?