We’re Hiring Again.

Dave and Polly recently talked about our how we’re looking for lots of talented digital people to join us  @CoopDigital.

We’re now looking for some more people to join Dave’s digital engineering team:

Service Manager
Service Analyst
Principal Engineer
Principal Developer
Principal Architect

Follow the links to find out more and apply. If you have any questions about any of the roles you can either comment on the blog or find us @CoopDigital.


Highlights from the Co-op senior leadership event.

Last week I attended an event with group of around a hundred senior leaders from across the Co-op. It’s the first time I’ve been invited and I was proud to be included. It all sounds formal and intimidating, but that’s not what I felt when I got there. Everyone was warm, friendly and keen to know who I was and what I did.

The two days consisted of presentations and workshops. I got to see lots of exciting and insightful things from every area of the Co-op. The exec welcomed feedback on what we could do better.

Co-op Enterprise Leaders Event

 I learned so much in a short space of time – I thought I’d share my favourite bits:

 Richard Pennycook and  Rod Bulmer  showed just how much they care about the Co-op. They’re approachable, grounded and witty.

 Andy Phelps shared some great tips how to best engage your team through change. He’s even lending me a few books.

Robert MacLachlan exemplified the spirit of  our Funeralcare business.

James Holland from Co-op Electrical brought a tear to my eye. He talked about his best friend who suffers from a severe health issue. We employed him and supported him through his treatment. This reminded me the Co-op has a good heart.

I’ve never felt so positive about the future of the Co-op.


Linda Humphries joins CoopDigital

I’m really happy to say that Linda Humphries will be joining CoopDigital next week. Linda is an amazing advocate of collaboration and co-operation, notably in the world of open standards for the public sector.

Linda Humpries
Linda Humphries Image by Government Technology Blog.  Under Open Government Licence https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3/
She has spent the last 15 years working in a variety of roles for the Government, most recently leading the open standards team for GDS. You can read about this her recent blog post. She’ll join CoopDigital as Business Manager – she’ll be vital in making sure we keep doing the right things. Being from the North West I’m sure she’ll be happy with a much shorter commute then her current trip to Brussels.

A wise man said recently, that it’s not what people say when you arrive but when you leave that matters. Such was the scale of Linda’s achievements that she received the following commendations when announcing her departure:

“While the media celebrates one hot new application after another, standards are the unsung hero of the internet. Its key innovation was that it defined how applications communicate, not what they do.  This was the secret source (and secret sauce) by which it unleashed an entrepreneurial boom.

Standards are also a key part of the open government revolution. And in this regard, Linda Humphries is an unsung hero of Government standards. She has painstakingly brought Governments into the open, leaving the British system a far more transparent and equitable system.

While the UK Government Digital Service will miss her, I’m delighted that she will continue to put her prodigious talents to work for the people of the UK via the Cooperative Group, one of the oldest cooperative societies in the world, helping to bring its offerings into the 21st century.” Tim O’Reilly, CEO, O’Reilly Media

“…an inspiration to thousands of people in the US and around the world who care about making government work better.” Jen Pahlka, Founder and Executive Director, Code for America

​Welcome, Linda.

Mike Bracken
Chief Digital Officer

Co-op Electrical moves to CoopDigital

Co-op Electrical sells, as you’d expect, electrical goods online. From fridges and washing machines to iPads and TVs. It’s a great business with a turnover of £100M and  a Feefo rating of 98%.  That rating stems from a real co-operative sense of customer service –  discounts for members and free delivery for everyone with slots by the hour.

Co-op Electrical competes in a tough market with the likes of AO.com, John Lewis and Currys. The team work hard to deliver not only great customer service but consistently offer lower prices than competitors along with warranties at a cost price.

Currently Electrical sits within Co-op Food, but as it’s an on-line business it makes sense to run it from CoopDigital. Today we’re announcing that James and his team will move over to Digital and work under Mike.

James and the team have an ambitious plan to grow the business. We’ll help to speed that up, making Electrical a truly digital business – not just an online one. We’ll invest in service design, agile delivery and focus relentlessly on the needs of our customers and members.

Steve and Mike

Steve Murrells – CEO Co-op Food – @Steve_Murrells
Mike Bracken  – Chief Digital Officer – @MTBracken

Codegirl at 1 Angel Square

On Tuesday evening we screened the film Codegirl at 1 Angel Square. It is an outstanding film about a global competition which encourages young women to create digital services, and shows the craziness of our current gender imbalance in our approach to technology and digital services. The evening was the brainchild of the amazing Danielle Haugedal-Wilson, one of the leading technology architects here at Co-op Digital.

It was great to see so many people from Manchester and the North West in attendance and we look forward to seeing them again during future events and community activity that we will be hosting throughout 2016 as we ramp up our digital team.

A few people have asked me for some of the facts I presented, so below is the brief speech I made on the night – Thanks to Russell Davies for researching these statistics.


“Good evening.

Thank you for coming tonight to our screening of Codegirl the first of many such events as we work with the digital community in Manchester.

I’m Mike Bracken, I’m Chief Digital Officer here at the Co-op and I’m acutely aware that I’m both the wrong gender and the wrong age to be standing on this stage, so I’m just going to say a few quick things and then I’m going to let you get on with the movie.

First of all – thank you to you all for coming. I’m hoping this will be the first of many similar events we’ll host here at the Co-op and I hope to see many of you again.

Secondly – thanks to my colleagues at the Co-op who helped to organise and publicise this event – Polly, Nicola, Paul, Vicky and the hospitality crew who have been amazing.

Thirdly, most importantly, I want to thank Danielle whose idea this whole screening was. Thanks Danielle!

And finally, I’ve been trying to think of something practical and useful I can say so that when you leave here this evening, inspired and excited, you are armed with some facts you can use to cause practical change wherever you work.

So I did some digging and here are some useful things to remember:

According to McKinsey and I quote:  “Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.”

i.e. companies with more women in them perform better.

According to the Harvard Business Review and Carnegie Mellon University  Harvard Business Review and Carnegie Mellon University .

i.e. teams with more women in them are smarter.

According to the VC firm First Round First Round and I quote again  “companies with a female founder performed 63% better than our investments with all-male founding teams.”

i.e. start-ups with female leaders make more money.

We’re likely to have 1 million vacancies in the tech sector by 2020. Let’s make sure more than half of them are filled by women.

And now, let’s watch the movie.”


Mike Bracken. Chief Digital Officer, The Co-operative Group


Consumer trends in 2016 – What’s hot

Hi everyone.  I’m Zuna Farooq, External Intelligence Manager (Strategy) at the Co-op – yes my job title is as brilliant as my job!  We track long-term consumer and market trends and relate them back to what it means for the business.

zuna blog - 1

Last week, we attended Future Foundation Trending 2016 (#TrendingFF16). Here are my takeaways from the day:

Solo living

26% of UK households are single-person, forecast to rise.  People feel more comfortable doing things alone and tech will cater to more fulfilling solo experiences. Consumer Virtual-Reality launches in 2016 and FutureFoundation predict that we could see the “arrival of VR-fuelled selfish media”.    For Food, single pack sizes continue to gain in importance, and for consumer services, single-person propositions.

I tried the Oculus Rift headset and OMG it’s indescribable!  I used to smirk at VR references but until you try one, you just can’t imagine how REAL they feel.

zuna blog - 2

Careers are not for life

More people are retraining and have “slash” jobs – e.g. writer/photographer/blogger.  Life skills will continue to be important, and consumers will value help in developing and building these.

Consumers are more impulsive

Last minute plans, celebrations etc. all bring opportunities for home meals and drinks.  #FOMO (fear of missing out) is rising and has the potential to be used as a marketing tool to tap into consumers.

Cashless stores will be big

Paying will be a thing of the past and as FutureFoundation described it, shopping could feel more like stealing. We have Apple iPay / contactless in all of our stores and we were first in the market to launch applepay – great that we are leading the way on this trend! 2016 will see consumers quickly think of cashless as norm.

Emojinal intelligence

Think John Lewis ads, using emoticons, and making customers genuinely happy.  This will be significant for our brand, Digital proposition, Membership and our customer service.

Here’s the future canvas from the end of the day (you can download a better version from the Co-op intranet page – sorry colleagues only!)

zuna blog - 3

There’s much more from the day which can be downloaded from the Co-op intranet pages under the Industry tab, or drop me a message. Packs include information on consumer pursuit of pleasure vs. control and a rising trend around brands rating consumers, plus how consumer lives are changing because of tech.

You can also follow me on twitter: @Zuna, External Intelligence Manager at the Co-op.

Google Bootcamp

First I should probably introduce myself; I’m Paul Morris, Head of Digital & Social Media at the Co-op.

This week I got on a train to the big smoke for the 1st CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) Digital Bootcamp hosted by Google. It involved circa 80 CMO’s from brands including Premier Foods, Lush Cosmetics, Bower Publishing, Weetabix & Vision Express.

I spoke on a panel in the afternoon session but first there were speakers from Wharton Business School, Boston Consulting Group, the Internet Advertising Bureau, eConsultancy and of course Google themselves.

And on that note here are my top 5 take out’s from the morning session:

advertising has changed

1/ The personal nature of mobile demands a different marketing mind set. Optimising for reciprocity is where it’s at.

2/ Big data is the wrong way of looking at it. We want better data. We should not be afraid of smart data compression and retiring data when it gets old.

3/ I really liked Eric Bradlow, Wharton School of Business, customer value model that expanded upon  ‘Recency. Frequency. Monetary value’ and added in ‘Clumpiness’ (how clustered are the purchase events). For more information visit his paper on the subject

4/ Google reinforced the need for a content marketing model online and promoted their YouTube ‘Hero, Hub, Help’ schematic; something we have been adapting for a while.

5/ Eric Schmidt’s (executive chairman of Alphabet) 70:20:10 Model was promoted as broad model for digital advertising and it’s something I think many companies could benefit from:

70% of time spent on what you know works
20% of time spent on what you think works
10% on experimentation

Moving on to the panel itself…

Google CMO digital panel
(I’m the chap on the right)

The 3 man panel included myself, Patrick Venning (Marketing Director for Pernod Ricard) and the chair being Eric Bradlow (Professor from Wharton School of Business).

It was an interesting discussion that focused on Digital ‘Quick Wins & Big Bets for 2016’.

After setting the scene with how Digital is used in our businesses we moved on to our biggest marketing challenges. We all felt a key challenge was an age old one; that of channel attribution and understanding the true impact of your marketing budget. At the Co-op we use some sophisticated multi click attribution and online/offline econometric modelling, however these models are certainly not infallible and I know many other organisations have the same challenge.

After a few more questions I got to my favourite part of the session; where I got to poke the excellent moderator with a pointy stick!

Eric asked the question of what did I used to believe was true and was no longer the case.

I replied that everything I heard in his earlier lecture on Big data I was starting to question.

Queue an awkward silence from the assembled CMO’s.

I explained that whilst I thought “Data was the new oil” and is hugely important to any marketer we needed to ensure that we did not optimise out “romance” or storytelling. If everything in marketing was quantifiable, automated, and predictable then you can have little fun with mystery, friction, and the beauty of the unexpected! Luckily Eric saw the point I (well actually I have blatantly stolen this view from Tim Liberecht’s book on ‘The Business Romantic’) was trying to make and of course correctly pointed out all that better data is what you built great storytelling and brands upon. I consider that argument a draw 😉

If you like my musings then please keep an eye on this blog or visit my personal blog www.searchmuse.com; and I’m @searchmuse on Twitter.

Head in the clouds…

Have you ever heard someone say “you’ve got your head in the clouds”?  Well that was me – literally – yesterday.  I work as a UI designer/developer at the Co-operative in a growing Digital team based on the 11th floor of 1 Angel Square and while the rest of Manchester struggled with the gloom of the fog, we were almost illuminated by it.  I’ve only been with the Co-op for a month or so and am still amazed by my workplace – this unique and innovative building feels like the right place to be as we continue our digital transformation.

Angel Meadows, a hidden gem!
Angel Meadows, a hidden gem!

To say it is exciting times at the moment may be understating it and to not just work for the Co-op but be a part of it as a member adds an extra dimension.  I’m not just working for the company; I’m working for the members – you, me and everyone that has joined this historic establishment on the way.

A fantastic employer

In Manchester the Co-op has always had a fantastic reputation as an employer and as one of its newest employees I can vouch for it – the people are welcoming, loyal – working hard and always wanting to be the best.  My workplace environment, the equipment, (for starters on my first day a brand spanking new Mac Book Pro was waiting for me), tools to help me ‘do a better job’ never mind the ‘little things’ that make coming to work that little bit easier, it’s clear for me to see that the Co-op puts it’s staff at the heart of who it is and what it wants to be and who wouldn’t want to be part of that.

Co-op sent me to NUX4!

The history that surrounds the Co-op means that I’m proud to say that I work for them and even prouder and more excited to be part of its future.

Oh and a little bit about me…

I have a passion for designing and developing websites.  I’ve done this professionally for the last 15 years, cutting my teeth working for fast paced design agencies after starting off self employed to build my portfolio.  Along the way I’ve designed some big sites, the Citizens Advice and Advice Guide websites for example; I transformed the checkouts and subsequent conversion rates for N Brown’s group of e-commerce fashion brands by turning a 10 step multi page process into a 1 page responsive checkout.  Almost without realising it I transformed from a website designer to a designer that codes in the browser and right now, here at the Co-op, it feels like this could be my greatest challenge but I know we’ll achieve all we set out to do together.

Anything could happen

So – back to having my head in the clouds – it feels like anything could happen and any idea could be the one that really changes, improves and moves the Co-op to its next phase – I can’t wait to be part of it – what about you?

I’ll be writing regular blogs about UI design/development and my Co-op journey, find me on twitter @uxeskimo.

Work hard, have fun, make a difference… Join us at Angel Square…

Digital Designer wanted

Hello, me again.Image of Ben Rieveley

I mentioned that there’d be more jobs coming soon, well here’s another great opportunity to join our growing band of digital co-operators.

Our ambition is bold: to re-create the Co-operative for a digital era, and demonstrate a different way of doing business for an increasingly connected community. To achieve this we need to ensure the visual impact of our digital services communicates our brand whilst meeting our users’ needs.

Photo of Co-op Design Studio team

We need you to produce, creative, coherent and consistent design across all digital channels for our family of businesses. You’d be joining our Manchester based design studio and support the Digital team by providing the visual design that helps us communicate our message and deliver a truly user-centric service to our customers online.

If you are a naturally creative person with a keen sense of business context this could be the job for you. You’ll need to be passionate but not precious, a collaborator with the confidence to present and explain ideas to both the digital team and colleagues throughout the business.

If you’re interested then take a closer look on our jobs board and submit your CV.

Have a great weekend!


Find me on twitter @barthelmess 

We’re hiring!

Image of Ben Rieveley

Hi, I’m Ben 2 (there’s 3 of us), I work in the Co-op Digital Team and have done since it was a team of one.

I have a huge passion for the Co-op and have always believed that it has immense potential in the new digital world we can be as pioneering as we were back in 1844 (I joined a couple of years later).

With our new digital leadership team we have just turned a massive corner and are about take big steps towards realising our potential. There’s much to do and to do it we need talent. We have talent but we need more. So we are immediately looking for a User Researcher to join us.

We need someone to help build a clear picture of our users and generate new and useful user insights that will allow us to iteratively improve the service for our users.

Are you experienced in using a variety of user testing methodologies to reveal actionable customer insights? Do you have  excellent analytical and problem solving skills with the ability to quickly develop recommendations based on quantitative and qualitative evidence? Are you confident in explaining user needs to colleagues outside of the digital team, and can act as a persuasive advocate for those needs across the whole business?

The Co-operative Support Centre, Angel Square, Manchester

Do you want to be part of transforming this iconic organisation, working in this awesome building in Manchester?

Then take a look at our jobs board and submit your CV today.

Good luck!


p.s. If this isn’t the job for you, keep your eye on this blog as there’s more to come…

Find me on twitter @barthelmess