EXCLUSIVE: Co-op sharpens focus on mobility retail and edges further into sector

The Co-operative has recently rebranded its mobility retail business as part of its strategy which will see it focus more heavily on mobility products rather than independent living aids.

Co-operative Mobility, formerly Co-operative Independent Living, changed its name after learning it can add most value to itself and its customers further towards “the mobility end” of the market.

Previously Co-op had deliberately focused on independent living aids to try and remain as broad as possible. Mark Smith, chief executive of Southern Co-op, who is steering the mobility arm into a new phase said the group is hoping to become the first online mobility seller “to get things right”, he told AMP.

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“We’ve learnt that independent living has such a wide breadth that it’s actually better to concentrate towards the mobility end [of the sector] – not at the very hard end of it but towards that end so the website should do what it says on the tin. That’s why we rebadged the name.”

Although it has refocused on mobility products rather than living aids, Smith said it has stopped short of items like motorised scooters because it feels it is at this stage unable to offer the full assessments necessary to sell products like this.

Smith confirmed that Co-op Mobility will remain an online operation for now but he said that the company will not rule anything out. He is however, fully aware of the dangers in opening a physical retail outlet in the current climate.

“At the moment the world of retailing, bricks and mortar and high streets has got a little bit more difficult in the last two or three years. Things like business rates, National Living Wage, some of the overheads in old school retailing are getting quite intense. So I think at the moment it seems like a distant prospect but it’s something we would definitely not rule out forever.”

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