Co-op criticised after announcing new partnership with Amazon

Co-op criticised after announcing new partnership with Amazon

Co-op has faced criticism after announcing a new partnership with Amazon and extending robot deliveries as part of plans to double its online sales by the end of the year.

The alliance allows Amazon Prime customers to do their full Co-op grocery shop on the Amazon website with same-day delivery and two-hour scheduled slots.

The partnership launches in Glasgow and surrounding areas on Thursday, but will be rolled out to other parts of the UK before the end of the year, with the aim of it becoming a nationwide service at an unconfirmed date. All orders over £40 will be delivered for free by Amazon’s Flex service.

Co-op, which prides itself on its ethical image and sustainability, has faced criticism from the GMB trade union over the move. Amazon has been accused of not paying its fair share of tax in the UK and poorly treating the drivers who deliver its goods.

Andy Prendergast, National Officer of the GMB, said: “It’s really disappointing to see a company with a proud ethical heritage like Co-op teaming up with Amazon.

“Amazon has made billions throughout the pandemic. Bosses won’t even recognise a union to improve the health and safety of their beleaguered workforce.”

Steve Murrells, the Co-op’s chief executive, said he wasn’t “here to defend Amazon” but added: “We have been working with Amazon for many years. From our point of view it allows us to get more ethically sourced products to more homes. It is a good joining of bedfellows.”

Meanwhile, Co-op is also extending its partnership with Starship Technologies, the robot company launched by the co-founders of Skype, which allows the delivery of groceries in as little as 20 minutes.

The convenience retailer will increase the number of autonomous vehicles operating and delivering Co-op groceries from 200 to 500 by the end of this year, extending them from Milton Keynes and Northampton to Cambridgeshire and then into the North of England.

A Co-op spokesperson said: “We aren’t compromising our ethics and principles and the extension of the partnership is about getting our ethically sourced products into the hands of more people.

“It reflects the support Co-op members have shown for Amazon’s products by using its lockers and click and collect services through hundreds of our stores for a number of years.”

The news comes as Mr Murrells warned of food price increases and pressure on its annual profits from the growing supply chain crisis. He said the company will look to offset the cost pressures “as best we can”, but that “some of that will filter down” to customers.

Co-op reported underlying pre-tax operating losses of £15 million for the six months to July 3, compared with profits of £56 million a year ago, as it was hit by product availability issues and the continuing impact of the pandemic.

John Boumphrey, Amazon UK Country Manager, said: “Our partnership with Co-op is another way for us to provide our Amazon Prime customers with more choice, value and convenience to shop for their everyday groceries.”

A spokesperson for the firm said they offered “excellent pay, benefits and opportunities for career growth” in a “safe, modern work environment”.

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