Can Sustainability be a way of doing business? : The case of Cooperative group (UK)
This study is about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy, sustainable thinking and practices at the Co-operative. The main focus had been the Food store of Co-op. The practices are assessed to see whether Co-op is doing business activities based on the pillars of ethical code of conduct that they have publically reported. The study builds up by presenting an overview of various businesses that are operating ethically under the title of the Cooperative group.
The challenge of Co-op is to be ethical, responsible, and aggressive in delivering value to all the stakeholders namely members and customers. This has to be done for the sustainable competitive advantage and growth of the business. It has been noted that despite being the pioneer in Fair trade products, Co-op food faced problems on customer and employees’ level. There were the cases of employee harassment and unreasonable behaviour of customers in attempting to buy beer and age restricted products. One customer level, they considered Co- op good for daily usage items and expressed their concern product prices, variety and delivery options. The employees had a mix response related to this issue and they mostly responded that Co-op was a better place to shop and had better service. The views of managers and customers coincided on many occasions that reflected the awareness of managers about customers’ behaviour.
The audit of suppliers of grocery products had been the concern as it was revealed that Co-op food sourced them from other countries like Spain. Therefore, suppliers’ audit became vital for behaving responsibly and having sustainable business practices that are profitable without risk of accusations. This is vital as Co-op food has branded itself as one of the green retailers in UK. Moreover, there are traces of green washing and green marketing as observed by us in their reports and website. This practice is considerably as Peter Marks himself said that customer trust is the key to success after economic crunch.
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