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CO-OP Logo and ‘Operation Facelift’

June 3, 2013

In the late 1960s, CWS worked with co-operative societies around Britain to rebrand co-operative societies with a single ‘CO-OP’ logo – known in the movement as the ‘cloverleaf’. At the same time, CWS redesigned its own-brand packaging around the ‘CO-OP’ brand, rather than using multiple styles and brand names for its goods.

The logo, which was offered to all co-operative societies in an effort to unify branding across the movement’s retail shops, was tied to a store modernization programme, known as ‘Operation Facelift’. Under this programme, stores which wished to use the ‘CO-OP’ logo needed to be refurbished to modern standards – and CWS developed a low-cost package for refurbishments through its architectural, shop fittings, and engineering departments and with a consortium of specialist firms.

In the first ten months, more than 2,500 ‘facelifts’ were in progress in England and Wales (see Ellesmere Port image); the programme was later extended to Scotland.

The modernization drive followed major changes inside CWS itself, including its move from a full-time Board of Directors responsible for all operations, to a part-time elected Board who governed strategic decisions and a chief executive officer, placed in charge of operations.

The CWS’ first CEO was Phillip Thomas (image), recruited from outside the movement in 1967 and charged with leading the modernization process. Sadly, he following year, the 43-year-old Thomas and his wife, Elsie, were killed in a plane crash while on holiday in South Africa.

Although not all co-operative societies adopted the ‘cloverleaf’ logo, many did, further developing a national identity for the movement. The ‘cloverleaf’ was adapted in 1992, and eventually replaced by the current ‘the co-operative’ branding in 2005.