Report from Inter-Coop (1997)

This document has been made available in electronic format
by the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA)
Dec., 1997
(Source: ICA Review, Vol.90 No.4, 1997, pp.55-56)

Report from Inter-Coop 
by Steinar Sivertsen* 

Inter-Coop, or as we are officially called in the context of the ICA,
the International Organisation for Consumer Co-operative Distributive
Trade, is an organisation for commercial collaboration among consumer
co-ops. Our membership comprises at the moment 10 consumer
co-operative federal organisations in 9 countries in Western and Eastern
Europe, in Israel and in Japan.

In recent years we have been through fairly comprehensive changes in the
organisational framework of Inter-Coop. A separate commercial company,
Intergroup, has been created to take care of joint non-food purchases for the
consumer co-operatives, and the focus of Inter-Coop itself has changed
from the co-ordination of non-food purchases to the promotion of exchange
of know-how and information with emphasis on retail related issues.

The change away from the commercially focused buying activities makes it
necessary for us to re-think the framework of Inter-Coop once more. The
new direction in which we are going gives us a challenge in two
dimensions, viz. in terms of membership and in terms of organisation.

Our new main focus purely on the exchange of information and know-how
will make it necessary for us to widen the membership of Inter-Coop. We
have a relatively small number of active members - this will have to be
increased if exchange of information within the Inter-Coop framework is
to continue to make sense.

The Inter-Coop organisation has always been financially sound. Finances
have rarely been a cause for concern, and I am happy to say that we
continue to be in good shape. The adequate funding has made it possible
for us to maintain a secretariat with permanent and full time staff.

This will now have to change - not so much because of the financial
aspects; but because our present secretariat is out of proportion with the
rather limited number of active participants in the Inter-Coop activities.

We are consequently going to submit to our Board and Members'
Meetings, which will take place on 17 September, that the present
secretariat in Copenhagen should be closed and that the responsibility
for maintaining and carrying on selected Inter-Coop activities should
be transferred to a secretariat under the direct supervision of the ICA
Head Office in Geneva.

It is our hope that this change in the Inter-Coop organisational framework
will contribute to safeguarding the viability of the exchange of information
for many years to come. 

It is our conviction that the ICA will be in a good position to recruit further
members of Inter-Coop on the basis of a work programme that has yet to
be decided, and I seize this opportunity of calling upon all of the consumer
co-operative representatives present here today to consider seriously a
membership of Inter-Coop ICA staff will be pleased to tell you how to
go about it.

My report today has had the purpose of giving you a brief outline of our
present focus and challenges. I hope that I have done so, and I thank you
for your attention.
* Steiner Sivertsen, as Chairman of Inter-Coop, prepared this written
   report for the General Assembly.