OUTLOOK: Co-operation deficit at the Co op

 

Outlook There seems to be a co-operation deficit at the Co-op. On the one side are those who would like to see the group become more like a public company in its governance structure. Others are arguing this will undermine the essence of the mutual and wish to retain a powerful voice for members.

There's no doubt that mutuals can be mismanaged. The Co-op itself has shown that expertly that in recent years. But it doesn't follow that the solution is to import a traditional plc structure. We shouldn't forget that public companies can also be hideously mismanaged. Of course people like the amateur former Co-op bank chair Paul Flowers can ruin businesses. But so can professional managers like Fred Goodwin at the Royal Bank of Scotland. Plc good, mutual bad, is not a compelling argument.

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