An Essential Upgrade?

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Essentials, the official supermarket of LUU, is to become a Co-op, it was announced by LUU earlier today.

A press release from LUU explained that the Essentials we all know and love is going to be transformed into a Co-op as part of a partnership with the groceries company. The move aims to provide students with “more choice of products, cheaper options and a speedier shopping experience”, something which will be welcome news to those students who have become disenchanted with Essentials’ uncompetitive prices.

While it will remain managed and run by LUU staff and members, the new store aims “to deliver Co-op and LUU quality and value” and is “one element of a new and exciting partnership with Co-op.” NUS Totum card holders will be able to get an extra 10% off qualifying purchases within the shop and there will also be an additional 5% off of Co-op products for those with a Co-op membership.

The new store is expected to open sometime during 2019.

The Union chose to partner with Co-op due to considerations over the range of their products, ethical standpoints, value for money as well as their contributions to the communities they operate in. Union Affairs Officer, Chris Morris, explained the decision: “I’m really excited that we’ve made the decision to partner with Co-op and change Essentials into a Co-op store as it will bring new benefits to students. We already sell some Co-op products, but this will help us to get a wider variety of products on the shelves, getting you more of what you want, whilst being quicker to checkout.

The Co-operative Food was voted ‘convenience retailer of the year’ at the 2016 Retail Industry Awards [Image: Tamworth Co-operative Society]

“The Co-op’s values, environmental ethics and community practices are shared by LUU so we’re looking forward to working with them on a union shop that works for and listens to students.”

The partnership with Co-op also comes with benefits to the consumer. The prospective instillation of self-service tills will speed up transactions and reduce the queue size of students seeking a mid-lecture meal deal. The shop will also be less detrimental to the environment, as more environmentally effective fridges will keep the latest food trends on your shelves at optimum temperatures.

Martin Rogers, Co-op’s Head of New Channels, also welcomed the news: “This is an important development for the Co-op, we have a long-standing focus on students and forming a relationship with LUU is a natural progression. We believe a strong Co-op can create stronger communities and this move will support our work to get closer to our members and customers, what they want, need and care about. The investment will ensure the store will have the range, choice, ease and convenience tailored to serve campus needs.

“We also want students to know that they can become co-owners and Members of their Co-op. Having a say in how the organisation is run and, giving back to the community every time they swipe their Membership card in store when buying own brand products and services – we look forward to serving the Leeds University community.”

It is unclear exactly when Essential’s full transition will be made, but with the promise of better value for money, a more environmentally friendly footprint, and a whole new range of food products, many hope it will occur sooner rather than later.

Robbie Cairns