COOP Jednota Slovakia is a consumer cooperative consisting of 30 regional COOP Jednotas – including their members, 10 logistics centres and the COOP Jednota Foundation. Each regional COOP Jednota has its own membership base. The total number of ordinary members of the COOP Jednota group was 127,486 on 31 December 2019.
The main mission of COOP Jednota Slovakia is to ensure the social and economic prosperity of the cooperative and its members, namely by creating tools and adopting measures so that its members, the individual COOP Jednotas, can maintain their share of the market. In addition, COOP Jednota Slovakia protects the rights and interests of the members of the cooperative, representing them and promoting their interests within organs and institutions both in the Slovak Republic and abroad.
The fundamental strategic goals of COOP Jednota Slovakia and the COOP Jednota group are: to bring common procedures together under one roof and ensure uniformity for all members; to integrate the purchase, distribution and selling of fruit and vegetables; to support sales of Slovak products; to extend the functionality in logistics centres; to strengthen corporate identity in both the immediate and external environments.
The most highly recognised value within the COOP Jednota group as a whole is customer satisfaction, which we aim to achieve by having creative and happy employees and by having good relations with trade partners as well.
COOP Jednota Slovakia is a significant shareholder in COOP Euro, a. s., OPTIMA, a. s., Nitra, DRU, a. s., Zvolen, VIC, a. s. Mojmírovce, FROP, a. s., etc.
150 YEARS OF CONSUMER COOPERATIVES IN SLOVAKIA
For a century and a half, consumer cooperatives have existed in Slovakia. They have survived difficult social and political times, two world wars, the communist transition and competition from abroad. In Bratislava, on 29 October 2019, COOP Jednota celebrated the 150th anniversary of consumer cooperatives. The celebrations were attended by senior management figures from the regional COOP Jednotas and special guests from Slovakia and around the world. Together we reflected on the importance and meaning of consumer cooperatives both at home and abroad.
The first cooperatives began to appear in the nineteenth century, founded by producers facing hard times and difficult social conditions. The very first cooperative was founded by English weavers in the town of Rochdale in December 1844 and it was followed three months later, in February 1845, by the Farmers’ Association, the first credit union. That was founded by Samuel Jurkovič in Sobotište and was the first cooperative in continental Europe. Gradually cooperatives were set up all over the world, in food (consumer), manufacturing, agriculture, housing, funeral, fishing and insurance.
In 1869 the first communal organisation, or consumer cooperative, was set up to supply consumer goods – the Food Society in Revúca. It was set up by Samuel Ormis, an evangelical minister, teacher and national thinker. His consumer association was founded on the cooperative principles of helping one another, solidarity and cooperation and its aim was to supply its members with groceries and grain. To ensure poorer people could join too, membership fees were set at five gulden.
Every member had the right to attend and vote, and even when members were later able to purchase multiple shares they still had only one vote each.
In 1919 the trade name Jednota first appeared, when a food cooperative was set up in Košice bearing the name. The consumer cooperatives coped with supply problems during the two wars and even when times were very hard they were able to stick to their principle of belonging to and serving the people, which still applies today. After the Second World War, regular weekly supplies of goods were reinstated under the distribution plan. In the post-war years, the food cooperatives continued operating.
Under socialism private traders gradually formed a retail network of consumer cooperatives.
In 1952 the political centres determined that the consumer cooperatives should operate in rural areas, distributing supplies from the largest districts to the smallest villages and hamlets. In the towns distribution was organised by state enterprise. As the resources and technologies were modernised, the consumer cooperatives began building self-service stores. The first was opened in Nitrianske Pravo in 1956 and, in that same year, further stores were opened in Prievidza, Hurbanovo,
Trstená and Šamorín. In 1957, in accordance with economic requirements and the need to rationalize management, the village consumer cooperatives and district unions were closed down and a Jednota people’s consumer cooperative was set up in each district.
In 1970–1989 the consumer cooperatives sold groceries, building materials and industrial goods, and ran canteens, provided accommodation and produced food. They had around 8,500 stores, 4,000 factory canteens and hostels, and employed more than 50,000 people. The number of self-service shops was expanded and they built shopping centres and large department stores. The range and quality of goods improved, shopping times were speeded up and store capacity was expanded, which all led to higher retail turnovers.
After the fall of the communist regime in 1989, the consumer cooperatives continued to evolve and strengthen their position. This was no easy task in the free market era amid strong competition.
The fact that they belonged to various organisations and national and international bodies proved helpful in this, but their success was largely down to the fact they started developing commercial profiles. Today they are equal partners with competing international chains in the cities and supply goods to the districts where no one is interested in operating owing to the low profit margins.
The consumer cooperatives have managed to maintain their position as grocery leader on the Slovak market in the face of tough competition. The COOP Jednota Group is the largest Slovak grocery retailer.
Up to 70% of the goods sold in COOP Jednota stores are of Slovak origin. The COOP Jednota Group is one of the largest employers in Slovakia, with more than 14 thousand employees. More than 1 million people have a COOP Jednota Shopping Card.
The basic role of a cooperative is to serve its members, look after its workforce, earn customer loyalty and contribute to regional development. Consumer cooperatives are a fundamental part of Slovakia’s history and present-day life. They can also be found across the world, where they have a positive impact on the economy and a meaningful future.
PERFORMANCE AND MARKET POSITION OF THE COOP JEDNOTA GROUP
In 2019 the COOP Jednota regional consumer retail cooperatives engaged in business achieved a retail turnover of €1.432 billion, which is an increase of 4.73% on 2018. Revenue from COOP Jednota retail sales was €1.202 billion, representing year-on-year growth of 5.15%.
The COOP Jednota Group logistics centres had revenue of €0.576 billion, an increase of 4.73% on 2018. Total retail and wholesale revenue for the COOP Jednota Group was €1.778 billion in 2019, which is a rise of 5.01% compared to 2018.
In 2019 the Slovak retail grocery market remained highly competitive. Kačka retail chain went into administration, and most of its stores were taken over by competitors, including some COOP Jednotas.
While the COOP Jednota Group has been able to maintain its position as market leader in groceries, mainly through our network of stores in villages and small towns, the Group still lacks a more visible presence in cities such as Bratislava and Košice.
One way to achieve growth, maintain our market position and accumulate sufficient resources to cover wage growth is to take action to increase the profitability of the COOP Jednota Group. Without raising pay, we will not be able to maintain and recruit qualified retail store workers, which is essential if we are to fulfil our strategic and development plans.
The Slovak market is a small one in which all grocery retailers are fighting to attract the same customers and retail prices are governed by the market and competition. It is therefore essential we improve profitability levels by focusing on operating cost efficiencies.
COOP Jednota is one of Slovakia’s leading retail chains and we do not wish to go down the path of cheap imports and low quality goods. We aim to continue being a reliable retail chain with a focus on selling Slovak products, which account for around 70% of our goods over the long term.
COOP Jednota has always been close to its customers. It is one of the largest and densest retail networks in Slovakia. It operates 2,083 stores, with 2,069 belonging to one of three formats: Potraviny, SUPERMARKET and Tempo SUPERMARKET.
In terms of size and product range, POTRAVINY stores reflect their target customer group in the villages and small towns. They sell mainly fresh everyday goods and private label products. This is the most common type of store. At the end of 2019, the POTRAVINY chain contained 1,518 COOP Jednota stores with a floorspace of up to 200 m2.
A more convenient shopping experience awaits COOP Jednota customers at its 531 SUPERMARKET stores with a floorspace of 200 m2 to 1,000 m2 that are found throughout most of Slovakia. With its wide range of products and attractive prices, the SUPERMARKET chain appeals to both ordinary and more selective customers. These are our most popular stores and customer numbers rise every year.
Tempo SUPERMARKET stores have a wide range of good quality and fresh products and can satisfy even the most demanding customers. In 2019 the COOP Jednota Group had a total of 20 Tempo SUPERMARKET stores with a floorspace of over 1,000 m2. Customers can choose from a wide range of good quality goods and services, and fresh products, COOP private label products, a wide range of branded goods, the latest products launched by our suppliers and a range of household goods.
COOP Jednota stores are supplied from 10 logistics centres that continue to improve each year and enhance their functionality.
MARKETING, COMPETITIONS AND CAMPAIGNS
For more than 11 years, the overarching concept in COOP marketing has been the popular duo the Shepherd and the Shepherd Boy. They help us build our image as Slovakia’s largest retailer of good quality, fresh and mainly Slovak products. The duo continue to entertain both COOP Jednota customers and ordinary viewers alike, and are considered a success by experts and the general public.
The proof of this is our Christmas promotion, which featured in the Top 5 YouTube Ads Leaderboard 2019. This list of most watched adverts on YouTube is published by Google.
In 2019 our sales promotions followed on from the previous year’s successful campaign, offering customers unique and attractive products that either came free with their shopping or at a discount in COOP Jednota stores, such as the Delimano loyalty programme, a Discover Slovak Castles and Myths sticker album for children, discounted Lego, and CDs and DVDs by the popular children’s singer Miro Jaroš.
COOP Jednota customers could also try their luck at the competitions we run every year to make Easter and Christmas shopping more entertaining. Each year customers can win great prizes such as cars and shopping vouchers promoted by popular adverts, and this year more than 2.5 million entered into the prize draws.
Another novelty in 2019 was eWheel Crazy – a regular competition in a new guise. The main theme of the competition was sustainability, the environment and educating the public. Customers could win hybrid vehicles, electric bikes and ordinary bikes by taking part in an online ‘eco’ quiz, in which they had to answer questions about the environment. This fun competition was an opportunity to learn something new and to win a top prize. There was a 30% increase in the number of entries compared to our more traditional Wheel Crazy held in 2018.
PROMOTING SALES OF SLOVAK AND REGIONAL PRODUCTS
COOP Jednota has long been the number one seller of Slovak products, which account for around 70% of all instore goods.
In 2019, in addition to supporting Slovak producers through various campaigns, we also ran regional speciality campaigns for products from selected Slovak regions like Zvolen, the Carpathians, Orava and Liptov, Spiš and Čingov, the Tatras and Šariš, Turiec, Hriňová and Tekov and Ponitrie. An imagebased PR campaign formed the basis of our promotion of Slovak produce and regional foods in 2019. In typical jocular style, our main message was “We don’t need to play the Slovak game. We’ve been supporting Slovak producers for years and that’s why our shops stock the most Slovak products and why COOP Jednota is the number one seller of Slovak food.”
In 2019 COOP Jednota celebrated twenty years since the launch of our private label. To celebrate this occasion we wrapped 20 of our products in limited edition packaging. The products that made it into the final selection had either been part of our private label range for many years or are some of the most popular instore products.
Since we launched our private label, our product line has changed and reflects the latest trends and customer requirements regarding quality and range. At the end of 2019, customers could choose from 728 COOP products in three main categories – Good Price, Traditional Quality, Premium – and five subcategories for selected customer groups – Mum’s Delicacies, Junior, Household, Active Life and Organic.
Every year the products sold under the COOP Jednota label are regularly tested in accredited laboratories in Slovakia and neighbouring Austria and Czechia. This means we can proudly display the Guaranteed COOP Quality logo on our own brand products and meet our goal to ensure customers can have good faith in the quality products sold under the COOP Jednota brand.
In COOP Jednota stores, our customers can choose from various additional services at POS checkouts. Customers can use COOPkasa to pay their bills and postal orders, top-up their phones and get cashback and discounted shopping through the COOP Jednota loyalty scheme.
NEW TECHNOLOGIES IN COOP JEDNOTA STORES
Each year customers are becoming more demanding and want their
stores to be pleasant places with a wide range of good quality fresh produce
and the latest technologies. At COOP Jednota we have been working hard since
2013 to introduce new technologies and innovations that make shopping easy,
simplify the work of shop staff and protect the environment. In selected COOP
Jednota stores, shoppers can find electronic price tags, LED price lists in the
fruit and vegetable section, self-service checkouts and musical marketing. In
Nové Zámky they can use make use of the mobile shopping service and shop online
at COOP Jednota Žilina.
2019 was the 15th year in which COOP Jednota Shopping Card holders could take advantage of the loyalty scheme benefits. Cardholders get discounts on their purchases and save money through special offers in COOP Jednota stores and reductions offered by our external loyalty card partners.
Each year the number of cardholders rises and reached 1,229,858 on 31 December 2019. For the year 2019, the consumer cooperatives paid out discounts on shopping purchased by cardholders worth €7,980,976. The discounts are paid out twice a year at Easter and Christmas and customers can purchase additional shopping with them.
Customers can record their purchases using the COOP Jednota digital card mobile app without having to connect to the internet and can use it to view the latest promotional leaflets, Jednota magazine or locate a store. They can also check the volume of purchases recorded on their loyalty card and the discount applicable during the payout period.
For 17 years now, COOP Jednota customers have been receiving the monthly Jednota magazine as a reward for their loyalty and custom. Since it was launched, the magazine has evolved into a trustworthy partner answering customers’ everyday questions.
The main focus of the magazine centres around COOP Jednota’s mission to be a key grocery retailer and so each issue contains information on food, eating, shopping, health and lifestyles. The magazine brings customers information about the activities of the regional COOP Jednotas – about new stores, employees, the charitable foundation and other activities aimed at reinforcing the relationship between the customer/reader and ‘their’ retail chain. The content and visual appeal supports the main aim of the magazine, which is to present COOP Jednota as a successful Slovak retail chain with the highest share of Slovak products and as a forward-looking, trustworthy retail group.
A healthy environment and lifestyle go hand in hand with a good healthy daily life. We should therefore be paying extra attention to protecting the environment and being careful with resources. Protecting the environment has been important to COOP Jednota for many years. In 2019 we introduced a new environmental strategy “Ecologically United”.
COOP Jednota provides a free instore recycling service for used and old lightbulbs and batteries. COOP Jednota is continuing to restrict the sale of plastic bags and offers customers recycled bags. Instead of plastic bags, customers can choose from paper bags or multiple-use bags such as organic cotton ones.
To improve energy management, the COOP Jednota Group has taken a number of steps to reduce energy consumption. These range from replacing store equipment with energy saving devices to renovating buildings, including the installation of renewable energy sources.
COOP EURO – INTERNATIONAL PURCHASING ALLIANCE
COOP EURO Alliance was set up in 2000 and contains three mutually non-competitive central European retail groups: COOP Jednota Slovakia consumer cooperatives (SK), COOP Cooperative Centre (CZ) and COOP Hungary Zrt. (HU).
COOP EURO is important as it enables us to engage in a strong trade partnership and share business know-how and an in-depth knowledge of the common market and regional differences. It operates in three important central European markets under its own private label COOP Premium.
brand offers consumers premium quality and complements the private labels of
the national members of the alliance. The products sold under this label offer
good value for money and high quality compared to premium brand names. In
2019 there were 96 products under this label.
COOP Jednota Slovakia consumer cooperatives had a total of 68 employees as of 31 December 2019, of whom 60% were women. The number employed by the COOP Jednota system was 14,036, with women accounting for 85%. The consumer cooperatives employed a total of 12,871 employees at the end of 2019, and more than 11,000 of these were working in COOP Jednota stores. There were 1,097 employees in the logistics centres. The strategic management and development of human resources in the COOP Jednota Group follows the principle of equal opportunities.
Staff training and development is a key aspect of human resources management at all levels of COOP Jednota. In 2019 we focused primarily on developing managerial skills. The key aspects were strengthening responsibility, relationship building, creating an atmosphere of trust, developing specialistskills to foster trust and professionalism among employees. We continued to employ innovative training methods through our tried and tested credit system that have proved successful and enable greater flexibility and variation in training and foster staff motivation to learn. The provision of staff training is organised in cooperation with external and inhouse trainers – selected COOP Jednota Group employees who have built up their own teaching and expertise in retail store finance, merchandising and category management. They pass on their skills, knowledge and wealth of experience to other employees through the training sessions. In selected consumer cooperatives, we introduced an online training programme in 2019. It currently covers compulsory staff training but the plan is to extend it to other types of training as well. In 2019 we continued to implement COOP New Starts – training for new store staff – and COOP Talent – staff development for those with the ambition and potential to pursue store management positions.
In 2019 we invested more than €365,000 in staff training and development. Almost 3,500 employees undertook training modules on management and executive positions.
A variable system of perks and benefits is available to all COOP Jednota Group employees. As separate legal entities, each COOP Jednota sets its own benefits in relation to capacity and collective agreements. The COOP Jednota Group system of perks and benefits is an important part of staff care.
COOP JEDNOTA GROUP CODE OF ETHICS
The code of ethics is a key document that sets out the ethical rules and guidelines on conduct in relations between staff, officials, bodies and organisations within and outwith the COOP Jednota Group. It stipulates the ethical values and principles that COOP Jednota subscribes to and is committed to upholding. By upholding the Code of Conduct, COOP Jednota strives to improve professionalism in COOP Jednota and to boost confidence among our customers and business partners.
Since it was founded in 2001, the COOP Jednota Foundation has
subscribed to one of the key principles of cooperative business – helping
one another. The COOP Jednota Foundation doesn’t just do that using its
own resources but relies mainly on contributions from supporters who help
improve quality of life in all Slovakia’s regions. The core principles of
the Foundation’s charitable work are supporting healthcare facilities,
helping people who are ill or in need and developing local communities. Since
it was founded in 2001, the Foundation has donated almost €6.5 million in
support for these areas.
Local Community Support Programme
Our local community support programme is most visible through the people who become involved in regional development. The COOP Jednota Foundation has been encouraging people to take an interest in their local area and has been raising living standards in local communities. The project is now in its third year and participation levels have again risen on the previous year with up to 760 projects having been put forward. COOP Jednota customers selected 26 winning projects in the final round and the COOP Jednota Foundation donated more than €151,000 towards these. In its third year, the local community support programme donations increased to €447,000. In the last three years, 77 local community support projects have been implemented.
Healthcare and social assistance
Although sometimes it may seem that buying equipment for Slovak hospitals and providing support for individuals represent a tiny drop in the ocean, we believe that every contribution is important and that every sum awarded truly helps someone. The equipment purchased under our Healthcare and Social Assistance is used by the public and those who need it the most. The COOP Jednota Foundation focuses on individuals as well and funds rehabilitation and development for people with disabilities – especially children with genetic diseases. We also provide social assistance to the third sector organisations improving quality of life for seriously ill children. In 2019 the COOP Jednota Foundation donated more than €137,000 as part of its Healthcare and Social Assistance.
AWARDS WON IN 2019
The Slovak Union of Bakers, Confectioners and Pasta Manufacturers awarded COOP Jednota the Honest Trader Prize for its equitable business approach. The award is proof that unfair practices are an alien concept at COOP Jednota Slovakia.
Most trustworthy brand
The most trustworthy Slovak grocery retailer in 2019 was COOP Jednota. This was the first time a retail chain had been awarded this special prize. The winner was selected on the basis of a consumer survey.
COOP Jednota became a superbrand for the seventh time in a row. This title is awarded by a special panel to strong brands that keep their promises, are innovative and continually push ahead. Slovak Superbrands has been awarding prizes in Slovakia for eight years now.
TOP young company
Students from various universities ranked COOP Jednota first for the tenth time in the TOP young company 2019 in Slovakia in the Retail Chain category.
Consumer Choice – Best novelty in 2019
In the Consumer Choice marketing programme – best novelty in 2019, COOP Jednota Slovakia won three prizes in the dairy products category. Customers voted for their favourite private label products – COOP Dezert Termix, COOP Longlife Milk 3.5%, COOP Parenica.
In the 2019 creativity-in-business competition, COOP Jednota Slovakia won the 2018 special prize for Most Favoured Brand for its Shepherd and Shepherd Boy advertising concept.
Hermes communicator 2019
COOP Jednota came third in the Retail Chain category for best PR
based on the results of a MEDIAN SK survey in 2019. It also came first for best
interior store design for its newly opened supermarket in Detva, which was
inspired by folk art.
Goals for 2020
• To strengthen the position of the COOP Jednota chain as market leader in groceries and sales of Slovak groceries
• To increase COOP Jednota retail turnover and overall performance of the COOP Jednota Group
• To ensure COOP Jednota has a competitive edge and maintains its distinctiveness on the Slovak retail market
• To modernise and expand the COOP Jednota network by opening new stores, renovating existing ones and using new point of sales technologies and optimising energy use
• To continue promoting the COOP Jednota brand through greater use of digital marketing tools and by developing CSR activities
• To continue optimisation of the range of instore goods in line with format size, including private label range
• To synchronise the purchase, distribution and sale of fruit and vegetables through cooperation with a single central partner
• To develop COOP Jednota Group environmental policy activities
• To expand the functionality of the existing logistics centres
• To improve and expand additional customer services at point-of-sale terminals in COOP Jednota Stores
• To complete the Trade and Support programme aimed at upgrading and improving use of the database to help business management and to help management of operational economic activity
• To improve staff development, professionalism, motivation and satisfaction in the COOP Jednota Group in line with human resources aims for 2020
• To use personal marketing tools to support staff recruitment, especially for store positions