In July 2007, The Co-operative Group and United Co-operatives amalgamated, creating one of the world’s largest consumer co-operatives, with a turnover of more than £9 billion, 4.5 million members and over 87,500 employees.
The new organisation operates over 4,500 trading outlets throughout the UK, including food stores, pharmacies, travel branches and funeral homes, which will adopt the uniformed brand – The Co-operative – to be rolled out across the estate.
Despite fierce trading conditions and an increasingly competitive retail environment, the food group has enjoyed an impressive period of growth, concentrating on ‘outstanding service and constant innovation’, a tactic that has clearly been successful.
Cashmaster were first introduced to the Co-op Food Group in 1999, with extensive trials of one of its machines at two pilot stores in Lancashire (Littleborough and Wigan Road), both of which provided promising results. Remarkable savings in time were recorded, together with 100%, accuracy levels during the cash handling processes. Immediate feedback from both of the stores’ managers suggested that they would be reluctant to give the machines back, having witnessed the impact they had. Chris Jones, manager at the Littleborough store described the Cashmaster machine as indispensable: “we save around 4 hours a week by using the machine, a time saving that simply can’t be underestimated. It’s also proven to be highly accurate and reliable, so not only can we count cash faster, our counts are now precise”.
Cashmaster received similar feedback from their Wigan Road store, but with even greater savings in time. A total saving of 5 hours a week was saved compared to traditional hand counts.
Presented with some persuasive pilot results, used to forecast an impressive ROI (return on investment) rate, Cashmaster worked closely with the Co-op to ensure that it delivered the best-fit machine for their needs. This included liaising with the Co-op’s IT department, to ensure that cash counting throughout the entire food group was paperless, via EDC (electronic data capture) and Cashmaster’s clever connectivity software. The Co-op subsequently purchased 200 of Cashmaster’s TR303 machines in 1999, deploying them to over 150 of their stores.
Ten years on, the Co-op are still enjoying the benefits that these machines offer, with a further 50 of their stores being assigned machines in 2001.
Neil Hunter, Cashmaster’s Chief Executive Officer, describes its long serving relationship with the Co-op as a proud, casing example of the company’s commitment to its customers: “our customer focused approach to business places a massive emphasis on listening and learning from customers like the Co-op. Understanding their needs allowed us to provide them with the ideal solution – a machine that maximises its value every time it’s used.”