Co-op Group, UK

A digital team of 200 transformed the UK's largest consumer co-operative


The Co-operative Group is one of the world’s largest consumer co-operatives. It is owned by 4 million members in the UK, and employs over 70,000 people. It runs the UK’s 5th-largest retail chain, an insurance company, and is the UK’s largest provider of funeral and probate services.

Co-op Digital, led by Public Digital’s co-founders, needed to set a vision for the digital re-invention of the 175-year-old retail business. And it needed to implement that transformation, forming new cross-disciplinary teams, putting new approaches and processes in place, and creating new capabilities.

Co-op Digital was also tasked with relaunching and improving the membership scheme, including the design of a single user experience, both online and offline. This included membership cards, a re-branding and advertising campaign, and a digital membership platform.

What we did

We built a new digital team from scratch, growing it to 200+ staff in 18 months. We introduced solid agile development, user research and service delivery disciplines and started a programme to introduce them to the wider Co-op Group.

We successfully launched the new membership scheme in September 2016, after iterative alpha and beta stages. Membership rapidly grew to 3+ million.

We repurposed an empty Co-op property to establish The Federation, a base for the digital team and an innovation and collaboration space for start-up digital companies in Manchester.

We worked with the Food business to build Shifts, a website that gives store colleagues far more visibility over their work shifts, schedules and days off.

We worked with the Funeral business to build Guardian, which lets colleagues in over 1,000 branches spend more time face-to-face time with bereaved families and less on admin, and keeps data in one place safely and securely.

What Co-op Group achieved

The refreshed Co-op membership scheme grew membership by more than 60%, helped drive member engagement and shopping loyalty.

Co-op Digital’s Federation project is a successful digital hub in the North West of UK, with a focus on solving the social problems of the digital revolution.

  • 3+ million members, or which 1.96 million were new.

  • 1 million existing members began using their membership again.

Read more

Co-op: Digital talent, Co-op Digital, October 2015.

The Federation, by Ben Terrett
Simple trumps everything, by Ben Terrett
Co-op HQ, by Ben Terrett
Public Digital


Public Digital
Clerks Court
18-20 Farringdon Lane
London EC1R 3AU


[email protected]

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