Is there something a food[t] or have I just got a BEE in my bonnet?

When we think of successful food retailing companies, most of us think of Tesco, the now huge global company. A few might reflect on Morrison’s achievement in absorbing the Safeway chain, acquired in 2003 ( and after a hard struggle emerging as a survivor (

But how many of us think of the Co-operative? They have just reported a 17% rise in first-half profit – largely due to an increase in food sales and this only a year after buying Somerfield in 2008 to become Britain’s 5th biggest chain of grocery stores. So what are they doing right?

According to their CEO, Peter Marks, it’s down to taking customers away from its competitors. “We’ve improved our product range, spent a lot of money modernising our stores and all of that together has meant that we’re getting new customers” ( But is that really innovative enough to beat off competition from the likes of Tesco?

Founded in Rochdale, Northwest England, in 1844 the group now has 5,300 retail outlets and about 4.5 million members ( However, it’s more that a food store, is democratically run by members and arguably leads the way in ethics and sustainability ( Now that could be innovative enough to take on the competition!

Perhaps I’ll BEEcome a member and get one of those pretty honeycomb cards (

Dr Nigel Lockett
Director of Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management (CEIM)