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Co-Op Shareholders Vote Against Directorship Changes

Attendees at two special members' meeting in Guernsey and Jersey have voted to maintain the existing terms for the appointment and length of service of directors.

The Co-Op's board said the four rule changes would be in the best interests of the Society and make it forward-looking.

The mutual society is facing increased competition, tighter margins, and the way it operates is complex.

Three amendments were seen by opponents as having the potential to change the Co-Op's ethos and make it more like other supermarkets, rather than one run by its members. They were to:

  • Reduce the minimum a potential director had to spend in a Ci Co-Op from £1,300 to £500
  • To align the maximum length of service on the board to a maximum of nine years
  • And introduce proxy voting at members' meetings.

The members' meetings weren't especially well-attended and some time after the one in Jersey ended last night (28 February) the Co-Op announced that all four proposals had been defeated. To succeed, at least two thirds of members had to vote in favour.

Deputy Peter Roffey, a Co-Op director for 26 years in the past, was critical of the proposed changes, thinking they would vest too much control in the board. He is pleased they have been defeated::

"I'm delighted. I never wanted to pick a battle with the Channel Islands Co-Op, I'm a big supporter of it. But, this just was going to make it a bit more like 'A.N. Other' company. But it's not a company at all, it's a mutual society, and it should be controlled by its membership and hopefully it will be for many years to come."

On its website, the Co-Op described the voting as close:

'It's apparent that a substantial number of our members backed the proposed rule adjustments, as demonstrated by a significant majority vote in favour of rules 1, 2, and 4, although it falls short of the two-thirds majority required to pass the vote.

We extend our gratitude to our members for actively participating and exercising their democratic privilege.'

Co-Op CEO Mark Cox says the board will carry on:

"We can continue as we are. The existing rules are ample for us to work to. Our immediate focus now turns to the annual members' meeting and recruiting new directors who can stand and be elected by our members in May."

Turnout and opinion is expected to be far greater, and far more heated, in May, when the AGM will discuss not distributing a dividend to members for 2023.

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