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I went to buy a Coke at the local Co-op…

Well, the deputy manager looks un-gruntled and asks the lad on the till, “Steve, you seen 8,000 Bakewell slices?” to which he replies in the negative because I guess if you ever see 8,000 of anything much you tend not to forget it. At this point me and the other bloke in the queue are chuckling but… it gets better… She follows up with, “Well it could have been 32″ which almost floored me and also the bloke ahead of me who almost dropped his dog food and four Stellas.

That is logistics for you! And also why I tend to shop at TESCO or Sainsburys.

The deputy manager in question was (is?) the face of the Co-op in the TV ad campaign from when they took-over Sommerfield. Possibly by buying them out with 7968 Bakewell slices. Who knows? Not the Co-op management for sure.

That’s her on the left…

I don’t even like Bakewell slices.


  1. john in cheshire says:

    How do the Co-op manage to provide the same ambience in their stores, no matter where they are situated? They always seem to be amateurish, slapdash and customer indifferent.

  2. HSLD says:

    Tell me about it. The staff at our Co-Op are nice, but quite frankly completely bloody useless.
    The aisles are always blocked by shelf stacking and if more than one checkout is open it’s a miracle.

    I meet some of the staff socially in the local pub – one girl is nicknamed ‘Spud’ by her co-workers because she genuinely thought that POTATO’S GROW ON TREES. I kid you not.

  3. Paul Marks says:

    In theory I have nothing against the cooperative form (any more than I have against other forms of corporate enterprise – and a coop is a corporate form of enterprise, it depends on limited liability just as they do). Nor do I have anything in theory against their evolution from supposedly locally controlled enterprises to vast entities (the one in Kettering is really just a branch of East Midlands coop which is ….).

    However, in practice I am not a fan of the British “cooperative movement” (it is a big formal organization – it does not include all things that have cooperative form) and not just because they are so smug “the caring, sharing coop”, “good with food” (even in their funeral service ads?) and other slogans. Nor is it just that they have supported the Labour party for a century – although, as a tribal Tory, I am not exactly overjoyed with that.

    It is also the way they act locally – they stabbed a little town near me (indeed where I spent the first five years of my life) in the back, closing down their stores and refusing to let anyone else open up. They just let things stand empty – and decay.

    In Kettering itself they say one thing “we will not move our main store” or “this store is not in trouble it will not be closed” and then do the opposite. True other business enterprises are not perfect either – but they do not go around giving endless lectures on their superior morality.

    On the borders of the ward I represent there was a big coop superstore (the site was about as big as the Tesco near where I live), yet one would not have known it.

    The complex was hidden away behind trees and a high fence, there was only one way into the area – and this entrance included high steps (I suppose to keep out the disabled – there was no actual need for the steps, the land round there being flat). Staff in this superstore always seemed to outnumber customers – surely there is something wrong with that?

    The whole setup was crazy.

    Of course there is an added kink in the British “Coop”.

    Unlike a normal cooperative (such as the “John Lewis Partnership” – when Mr Lewis died he left his stores to the staff to be run as cooperative), the big British coop is supposedly not even owned by the staff – it is “owned by the customers”.

    They used to give special stamps to customers (as a sort of dividend), but they no longer seem to do that.

    It is all got very weird – not even the people who work for it understand it (I have talked to some of them).

    Anyway it seems to be going – most of the stores in the Kettering area are gone. And the “Cooperative Travel Agent” in the centre of town turns out to have “merged” with Thomas Cook on a 70% 30% basis (clue the coop is not the 70% owner).

    I will not be upset to see the whole weird enity leaves this world.

  4. Laird says:

    What is a “Bakewell slice”?

  5. bloke in spain says:

    Dunno, but apparently a surfeit of them makes a woman look like the one on the left. Sort of crazed hamster…..actually they both look like they’ve done some particularly righteous acid.

  6. RAB says:

    They have Loyalty cards now instead of stamps Paul, and I’m fed up being asked for mine, cos I hate the bloody things. God knows how much stuff you have to buy to get a free packet of fish fingers.

    Probably something like this Laird…

    Though you never know with the Coop. They are very big in Italy too for some reason. Er that’s the Coop, not Bakewell tarts. The average Italian would find them disgusting considering the quality of their pastries and confectionary.

    Yes, ours is staffed by morons too. Affable morons, but morons nevertheless, must be something to do with the entrance test.

    I only go in for fags and a few odds and sods, and they invariably pull out the wrong brand even when you are pointing at them going… No left a bit, no LEFT (sigh!) the Winston, white with a red band, no RED band. Look I’ll come round the counter and help myself shall I?….

    Gawd knows what it is going to be like when they are under the counter!

    Fortunately there is a Tesco and Sainsbury’s no more than half a mile away.

  7. Laird says:

    Thanks, RAB. I found this: Actually, they look OK.

    But “fish fingers”? Who knew?

  8. Lynne says:

    Back in the 70s the Co-op buried my grandad. They made a complete pigs ear of the job. So bad in fact that my Gran included an instruction into her will. When it came to her time, the funeral directors should be – anyone BUT the Co-op.

    Saying that, the village mini-market is a Co-op and the staff are great. The company knows how to charge though so I only shop there for small items out of necessity.

    RAB, the only loyalty card I have is Morrison’s petrol miles (they have the cheapest petrol in the district). The problem is, I’m redeeming the vouchers at rapidly shrinking intervals (which I suppose is good) because of hikes in fuel prices (which ain’t good at all).

  9. NickM says:

    John I think “customer indifferent” is putting it mildly. The natural way to walk from where I live to the local Co-op reveals the back of the building. Frequently you can see up to three of them simultaneously having a fag out the back leaving one till working and a massive queue. Now any organisation which has everyone on a smoke break simultaneously is not organised. Furthermore the whole ethos of the Co-op is vile. They eternally go on about how effing moral they are. Whether it is the chip and pin machines that forever ask you whether you saw their last telly ad or the cah machines that include an extra stage to let you know they don’t want you to ask for a paper receipt to save the environment or – and this floored me – the fact they sell, “ethical water” whatever the fuck that is. I assume not only does it quench a thirst but can knock out 2000 words on Baruch Spinoza.

    This is not a rant about morality in business though bugger me it is grating because If I want a sermon I’ll go to a church. If I go to the Co-op I’m buying bleach or toilet paper and I want a quick fuss-free in and out at a reasonable price. No, it is the obsessive need to tell, not show. Good businesses don’t tend to obsessively go on about how good they are they just are good and that is obvious to the customers.

  10. Laird says:

    “Good businesses don’t tend to obsessively go on about how good they are . . .”

    So why do so many of them go on and on about how “green” they are? Oh, you said good businesses, didn’t you. Never mind.

  11. Paul Marks says:

    Point noted RAB – but what about “the customers own us” thing, how does that fit in with an ordinary supermarket “loyality card”?

    On second thoughts do not tell me – I think I might lose the will to live (never wildly strong in my case) if someone really sat down and explained all the inner workings of the “Coop” to me.


    When my father died he left strict instrutions that I was to go to all the funeral directors – and go with the lowest quote.

    Normally I do not haggle (and so on – which is why I get ripped off over gardening work), but my father’s wishes had made it a duty, so I did.

    No surprise that the coop was the worst quote – and the only ones who seemed angry that I turned them back.

    I had duty to choose them you see – they were offended that I did not.

    Almost as if it was their father not mine who had died.

    Almost needless to say, Harry Marks never had anything to do with the Coop in his life – they had no “claim” on him whatever.

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