The Co-operative has claimed its decision to remove marketing from the management board is aimed at ensuring the group gives a more coherent message to all its stakeholders once it has decided on its new strategic position.
The changes, announced this morning (19 March), mean group marketing director Gill Barr will now take direction from the Co-op’s chief external affairs officer Nick Folland on marketing strategy. He will be responsible for ensuring that the group communicates in a more joined up way whether it is speaking to Co-op members, staff or customers.
Barr maintains her role as marketing director and will be responsible for ensuring that senior marketers in the company’s business areas – which include insurance, food, pharmacy and funeral care – communicate The Co-op’s brand positioning.
A spokesperson says the changes have the potential to strengthen the Co-op’s focus on marketing and are recognition that it must communicate its vision, purpose and attributes in a more joined up way.
“This provides us with an opportunity to talk to key stakeholder audiences. We can be crisper in terms of communication and managing messages to stakeholders… and more joined up in how we convey the brand to a whole range of people,” says the spokesperson.
The Co-op is in the midst of working out what that brand positioning might be following a difficult 12 months including the discovery of a £1.5bn black hole in its banking division, controversy around the Co-op bank chairman’s private life and the resignation of group CEO Euan Sutherland last week.
It is currently asking consumers to offer their thoughts on its future direction through the “Have your say” online survey. That has so far attracted more than 100,000 responses, above the group’s target of between 30,000 and 40,000.
It has also moved Paula Kerrigan, the group’s chief strategy officer, to become a member of the board where she will continue to develop the group’s purpose and strategy. An announcement on that is expected at the firm’s annual general meeting on 17 May.
Once members have voted on the strategy, she will be responsible for seeing that strategy implemented across the business, including in marketing.