AMM 2023 member questions

In this section

Thank you to all our members who attended and asked questions at our 2023 AMM on the evening of Thursday 18 May. 

There were some questions we didn’t have time to answer. We’ve grouped these questions into themes and answered them below.

Dividend on rent

Every retail co-operative has their own approach to paying dividend. Approaches differ on lots of aspects, including fuel, funerals and property. Like most retail co-operatives, we don’t pay dividend on rent from residential properties. 

The great benefit in renting a home from us is that we’re a responsible landlord, with a fair and reasonable approach, providing high quality accommodation. 

We work hard to ensure our residential portfolio is in good condition. The units are maintained to a high standard and all compliance matters are undertaken by professionally qualified specialists. We go over and above statutory minimums in our checks and maintenance. 

We’ll continue to review what member spend qualifies for dividend and consider both the advantages and disadvantages of including rent on residential properties. 

International food range To ensure we’re providing our customers with the best possible choice of products and to improve the shopping experience we offer, we’re currently going through an exciting period of product range reviews. We understand that this may look like we have an unusually high number of products being delisted, or products that are temporarily out of stock. Please bear with us whilst we work through these changes.   
Decision making around purchasing land

We want to be the best at what we do in the East of England.  

We’re certainly not afraid of competition and as you’ll see from the Annual Report, we’re winning in the marketplace, with an increase in the goods we are selling.   

Plus, as a property and landowner, we, along with all retailers, adhere to and are bound by the Competitions and Market Authority (CMA) Competitions Laws.  

Framlingham, Station Road

Our co-op doesn’t own the land positioned to the right of the forecourt. 

It’s not possible to provide a definitive answer on when the car showroom will be occupied but we’re in active discussions with a potential tenant. 

Donations to political parties

As a founder society of the Co-operative Party, we’ve paid an annual subscription for more than 100 years, part of our proud tradition of working to bring co-operative values into parliament and our laws.  

We regularly meet with the Co-operative Party to ensure we get political and legal support for things that benefit the Society and its colleagues, like protecting retail workers from crime and passing legislation to protect our co-operative values.   

In-store radio Last year we changed our in-store radio to feature a mixture of popular music. This change was a result of feedback from colleagues about ways we can make their working environment more enjoyable. Since this change we’ve had a lot of positive comments from customers and colleagues, and as a result we’ll be sticking with our current in-store radio offer.
Soft-plastic recycling

All Co-op own-brand packaging can be recycled, with bread bags able to be recycled in our in-store soft-plastic recycling bins. 

Pre-packed sandwich containers do require separating, however both components can be recycled. The plastic film can go in our soft-plastic recycling bins, whilst the cardboard container can be popped into your recycling bin at home.  

Colleague retention and pay

Each year we review our pay budgets in the context of business affordability, market conditions and other factors such as National Living Wage increases. 

Any proposed wage increase is then agreed with our recognised trade unions USDAW through a pay ballot, or with GMB for our Funeral Services and H.L. Perfitt colleagues. 

Despite the difficult business conditions we’re facing, we’ve sought to provide the best possible pay increases for our colleagues this year, given the cost of living challenges everyone is facing. 
The pay deals we’ve concluded so far vary in the percentages received, but our lowest paid colleagues have received the largest percentage increases. 
As a business we don’t pay age related rates and all colleagues are paid above the National Living Wage.