A glimpse from the C&S Supermarket

The ICA Committee on Consumer Cooperation for Asia and Pacific organised a series of webinars in 2021 to discuss challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and opportunities that arose for consumer cooperatives afterwards,

In July, a regional webinar on Cooperatives Contribution to Local Communities was held in collaboration with JCCU. The webinar which introduced the activities of cooperatives in the Asia-Pacific region and their contribution to local communities helped the committee members in deepening their understanding of cooperative identity. Mr. Tanno Junichi, Director & Development and Sales Manager, Tohoku Cooperative Business Development Co., Ltd. from Japan; Ms. Juhee Lee, International Team Manager, SAPENet Development Center, iCOOP from Korea; Mr. Dudz Samson, Brand consultant, C&S Co-op Supermart, VICTO National from the Philippines; and Mr. Surendra Shridhar Karhade, General Manager, Sahakari Bandar from India presented and discussed efforts of their organisations to rebuild better in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, disaster management, climate action, and healthcare needs of their for communities. The webinar was useful for participants to understand how cooperatives reached out and can reach out to local communities.

The Committee organised a webinar on ‘Effective Operation of the Small-Medium Scale Coop Stores: An Introduction to New Generation Stores in the Philippines’ in August. VICTO National, an ICA member from the Philippines has started C&S Co-op Supermart, new generation supermarkets, that serve local communities by keeping people at the centre of operations. Mr. Dudz Samson, Brand consultant, C&S Co-op Supermart; and Ms. Rowena Obordo- Lazarte Brand Manager, C&S Co-op Supermart presented the history and concept of stores. Some of the successful strategies adopted by the C&S Co- op Supermart were prioritising customer needs and feedback, incentives to members, standardizing the cooperative brand, and supplying members’ products along with private products. Mr. Samson noted that “our dream is not just to sell products. Our dream is to promote and sell members’ products.” This special emphasis on members made them stand out in the market in comparison to private supermarkets. During the COVID-19 pandemic, C&S Co-op Supermart had started free delivery services for the elderly and people with disabilities and introduced loyalty points for customers. The model places members, workers and consumers at the centre of the vision and policies of the cooperative. It was well received by the participants who recognised the growing need for multi-stakeholder cooperative models to address the multi-dimensional needs of the people.

In September, a webinar on ‘Sustainability,’ was organized in collaboration with JCCU, to deepen the understanding of the businesses and activities of consumer coops (or coops in the retail sectors) to improve sustainability, boost inter-cooperative cooperation around the world, and discuss cooperative identity. Mr. Yasuhiro Onizawa, Manager, Environment Promotion Department, Consumer Cooperative Kobe (Coop Kobe) from Japan shared the coop’s environmental activities such as Environmental Challenge Goals, Food Recycling in its Eco Farm, and Solar Sharing Initiative. Dr. Mohd. Azlan Yahya, Vice-President, ANGKASA, Malaysia & Former Vice-Chairperson of the committee shared ANGKASA’s three sustainable intervention programs – BA100 Program, 100 Champion Product Development and Cooperatives’ Products Resource Centre (CPRC). Ms. Novita Puspasari, a scholar- activist of Cooperative and SMEs & Researcher at Kopkun Institute from Indonesia explained about the consumer coops in Indonesia, how Kopkun Coop is managing its stores under the Covid-19 crisis and the kind of support Kopkun Institute provides to Kopkun Coop and its members such as education programs and innovations.