In a bid to not only update its tools, systems and processes, but also to build on its vision of “co-operating for a fairer world”, the Co-op implemented one of its largest investment programmes – Retail Business Transformation (RBT).
RBT was a complete end-to-end transformation of the Co-op’s food business and involved replacing 30-plus old systems with three new ones – JDA, SAP and Co-op Connect – allowing the firm to streamline its processes.
Such a large-scale transformation, which directly impacted around 50,000 employees across commercial, finance, depots, retail and even in the supply chain, was not without its challenges. RBT was implemented alongside BAU operations over two years and during that time, the change team had to pivot its implementation approach because of Covid.
When the first lockdown hit, the company was at the point of rolling out the new systems across all stores and depots after a successful pilot run. The judges were impressed with the “agile and flexible” manner in which the team switched to continuing the implementation virtually given the “changing environment”.
But that was not the only challenge. Co-op wanted to drive ownership of the transformation, so it initially engaged Deloitte as its change partner. The professional services company provided expert advice on not only developing Co-op’s change management approach, but building in-house change management capabilities.
The team used the ADKAR model alongside “engagement journeys”, which featured a range of activities designed to inform and enable staff to understand the changes. This evolved around how RBT would benefit Co-op and the local communities; adopting new ways of working; learning how to use the new technology; and providing ongoing feedback.
As RBT was being rolled out nationwide, Co-op trained more than 1,000 colleagues directly about the changes and a further 49,000 have received targeted in-store or depot training. As a result, the programme has already delivered £40m of the £70m targeted savings through better stock management and reducing wastage. In addition, as part of the change, Co-op has contributed £15m to local community causes and £12m to other charities.
The judges were also overwhelmed with the team’s “extensive use of the huge variety of change management, communications and training approaches throughout the programme”, which not only aligned current business strategies with the company’s history and ethos, but were “modern and relevant”.
And Co-op’s success does not stop there. The judges were amazed with how the firm has future-proofed the change with phases that continue to look at how the system can be improved.