Packaging up data

Packaging up data

Midcounties Co-operative look to integrate data and technology to capitalise on growth.


Our positive sales show why we are optimistic for future growth and demonstrates how the retail convenience sector remains resilient in challenging times.

Peter Kelly

Chief Financial Officer, Midcounties Co-operative

Midcounties Co-operative

When your business exists to create value for members, customers and the wider community across multiple services and retail channels, it makes sense to get a complete picture of how these moving parts interact. We spoke to Peter Kelly, Chief Financial Officer at Midcounties, to find out how they will use data to see the big picture.

Formed in 1844 with the aim of supplying quality goods at fair prices and to support local communities, Midcounties has grown to become one of the UK’s largest regionally owned co-operatives with more than 700,000 members. Over the years, Midcounties has expanded into further business channels, now comprising of food, childcare, travel and utilities – but the purpose remains the same: giving back to local communities and building a fairer, more sustainable and ethical future.

Taking a co-operative approach

Knowing your customers

Operating more than 230 grocery stores across the UK, Midcounties is impacted by the rising cost of living and by double-digit food inflation. Midcounties is reaching out to members to promote who they are and what they stand for, whilst using their transaction data to inform the services and products they offer.

The retailer has made efficiencies across its stores, rolling out more self-checkouts, hand-held terminals and trialling electronic shelf-labelling systems. The positive impact instore is clear; Midcounties’ latest sales report reflects significant growth, driven by an increase in shoppers dropping into local stores on the way to and from work, or on the school run.

Meanwhile more than 100 partnerships between Co-op Food’s convenience stores and food delivery companies have ensured Midcounties services its customers in however they choose to shop.

“The ‘last mile’ grocery delivery from convenience stores is important to our customers and we expect it to continue to gather pace,” Peter says.

Data champions

Integrating data systems will be a key focus for Midcounties as the they look for more sophisticated ways to capture and understand consumer and business interactions, and ultimately drive growth.
Peter explains unified commerce, providing a whole business view across all channels and areas of operation, will be central to Midcounties’ future data capture and utilisation, allowing them to look at everything from supply chains to consumer shopping habits and stock management.

“We’ve got a lot of external data which we could be using better to really get under the skin of our members and customers.” he continues.

Peter explains: “We want to create internal expertise so we can manipulate the relevant data without relying on third parties to help us understand our own customers and members.”

The goal is to make Midcounties a ‘data champion’ with in-house experts able to analyse member and customer journeys.

Growing membership

Co-operatives have been leading the way on membership schemes since the 19th century with participants not only benefiting from profit shares every time they shop, but also enjoying exclusive offers.

Midcounties plans to expand its membership scheme even further to offer more discounts and rewards to members, and better understand their customers to provide synergies across the various business channels

Peter says: “There is more we can do when it comes to using our membership model commercially. Better access to and analysis of customer data will allow us to offer tailored deals across all our business channels.”

Again, integrating data streams will provide Midcounties with a single view of how customers interact with its various business lines.

“Having a unified view to help us deliver more meaningful and relevant offers will give us a competitive edge” Peter explains.

Working together to achieve goals

Midcounties is a leader on sustainability and social issues, promoting recycling, waste reduction, and efficient energy, as well as supporting local communities. It has also taken advantage of partnerships to meet their goals. For example, in a bid to reduce food waste, a partnership between Co-op Food and anti-food waste app Too Good To Go, helps shoppers return unwanted items which are then sold at a discount instore.

Midcounties will continue to improve how it monitors and measures its environmental and social impact across all areas of the business, using that data to communicate a positive message to members and customers.

We live and breathe sustainability and we know we have a good story to tell. We want to better communicate the positive impact we have, including reducing food waste and energy consumption not just across our own business, but also the suppliers and partners we use.

Peter Kelly,

Chief Financial Officer, Midcounties Co-operative

Although ESG considerations are firmly embedded in Midcounties’ culture, the organisation was eager to further reduce their Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions under the Taskforce for Carbon Disclosure regulations, and in managing food waste.

Midcounties have demonstrated via its external ESG strategy just how far along that journey they are and, most importantly, are able to capture and report the data on their performance against their targets. This has enabled them to conclude a recent linkage of their ESG targets into their agreed funding solution, provided by four UK banks. Barclays helped co-ordinate these lenders to embed certain KPI’s into that facility.

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