Midcounties Co-operative Society were announced last night at the Co-operative Congress as winners of this year’s Co-op of the Year award, an outcome which was both deserved and (as Midcounties’ Chief Executive Ben Reid effectively admitted) unfair.
Deserved, because Midcounties is well run with a strong Board, strong senior management team and a strong commitment to co-operation (even if their Co-operative Energy subsidiary is doing something very strange to online access to my account with them at the moment). Unfair, because the award goes to whoever can assemble the most votes cast over the internet and frankly Midcounties has a lot more customers to ask for support than the smaller co-ops that were also in the running.
On the other hand, as Ben Reid went on to point out in his acceptance speech, it’s not every supermarket chain that could get its customers to go home, log on, and cast a vote in support of the business. Midcounties is something of a reproach to the Co-operative Group in this respect – or should I say that it simply offers a pointer for how the Group can sort itself out in the future?