We have the answers to your commonly-asked questions to the Co-op

Everything from IDs to meal deal sales

At the beginning of February, we asked you to submit some of your questions for the on-campus Co-op. Speaking to employees at the Co-op, they felt that some questions regularly popped up so we wanted to put them to rest.

The Students’ Union helped us out with answering these questions and wished to pass on a little message:

“Thank you to everyone who took the time to submit a question and to The Sussex Tab team for gathering them for us.

“The Students’ Union runs the Co-operative store on campus in partnership with the Southern Co-operative, part of the nationwide Co-operative group. We employ, train, pay and manage the staff though much of the logistics and procedural side of things is handled by the Southern Co-operative and we have to do things their way. This means we can ask them about things like prices and products but we can’t make those decisions.

“If you have any other questions about the Co-operative store (or the Students’ Union) you can chat to a member of staff or email [email protected]

Lets get into the questions.

What do you do with stock that isn’t sold?

We try to minimise the waste generated in store, for example through reducing products as they approach the sell-by date on the label and we can now reduce even more types of products which means waste is reduced. Unfortunately, we do have to waste some things if they get dropped and break, or if chilled food is left out of the fridge for too long. Cutting down on food waste is also a priority for the Co-operative and none of it is sent to landfill. We have to comply with The Co-operative’s waste procedures which are explained on their website.

Can you start stocking more fresh veg rather than the ones in the bag?

Our product range is decided by the Southern Co-operative Head Office. Loose vegetables would have to be weighed at the tills which would increase the time of each transaction and lead to further queuing. Much of the packaging around our fruit and veg is recyclable and increases the shelf life of the product which helps us keep food waste down. To find out more on this issue, take a look at the packaging section on the Co-op website.

Why can’t you accept my national ID card?

We follow the same ID policy applied at other Students’ Union shops and bars, and are restricted by what is stated on our license to sell age restricted products like alcohol.

There are so many different national ID cards and while people from the EU can get into the country with them, UK Border Control have specialist equipment and know how to ensure all are legitimate.

We know that not everyone has, or wants to carry around, a driving license or passport so we worked hard to get University student cards on the list of approved IDs for Union shops and bars and this was only allowed by the licensing department because they know we are very familiar with those and would be able to spot fakes easily.

How much alcohol did you sell in freshers?

Freshers Week is definitely one of our busy weeks and our staff team were working super hard to keep the shelves stocked and the queues down. We sold lots of things including alcohol but can’t tell you how much sorry as it is commercially sensitive. Let’s just say it was enough for some good nights out.

How many meal deals do you sell a day?

We reckon on average up to 800 a day. With the 10% NUS Extra card discount, that brings the meal deal price down to £2.92 which is better than most, if not all, major supermarkets.

Do you get shoplifting a lot, if so how do you deal with it?

Like with any store, shoplifting is an issue, and one we’re tackling with increased security and other measures.

It is worth noting that that stealing from the Co-op affects the income the Students’ Union receives as we have a partnership with the Southern Co operative to help run the store. This then directly impacts on the services we can provide for all students like sports, societies and advice.

If you are caught stealing from the store you are  permanently banned from there (as well as all other Southern Co-operative Stores) and risk being banned from all other Students’ Union outlets, including East Slope & Falmer Bar, Room 76 , The Globe and the Union Shop.

Why, when compared to other co-ops, are you so expensive?

Again, this isn’t an area we control but we’ve been talking to the Southern Co-operative about how we can ensure our student customers get good value. There has been quite an increase in own-brand products since last April which are cheaper than branded products and there are always loads of special offers across all categories which change weekly. And remember, your  10% discount you get with an NUS Extra card applies to everything in the store.

We appreciate that for a lot of students the Co-op  is still too expensive and we are working with the Southern Co-operative to see what further improvements can be made but as said before we do not have control over the pricing, the Southern Co-operative do.

When are you next hiring?

We often do a big recruitment push in September and May every year if needed. All of our Customer Service Assistants, our Supervisors, and one of our managers are either current or ex-students at Sussex. With around 100 staff needed to run the store there are lots of student jobs. If you’re interested in working for us you can sign up for email notifications of vacancies within the Students’ Union including the Co op at www.sussexstudent.com/jobs

Have you thought about making the shop 24 hours?

This is certainly something to consider for the future. As a Students’ Union outlet we are committed to providing jobs for students so we need to think carefully about staff welfare and the impact that 24 hour trading would have on our staff team, as well as ensuring we offer the best services for students on campus.