Finance

Co-op under fire for delivery deal with “tax-evading” Amazon


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o-op Group today unveiled a delivery deal with Amazon, raising eyebrows in the sector and earning the immediate ire of unions.

The member owned grocer, insurer and funeral provider is trialling a deal that will see its food sold via Amazon to Prime subscribers. Orders over £40 will be delivered free, starting in Glasgow initially with plans for a quick roll out elsewhere.

Andy Prendergast, national officer of the GMB, said: “It’s really disappointing to see a company with a proud ethical heritage like Co-op teaming up with Amazon: a tax evading multinational with a horrifying health and safety record.

“Amazon has made billions throughout the pandemic and pays virtually no tax. Bosses won’t even recognise a union to improve the health and safety of their beleaguered workforce.”

Co-op chief executive Steve Murrells said he wasn’t “here to defend Amazon” but added: “We have been working with Amazon for many years. From our point of view it allows us to get more ethically sourced products to more homes. It is a good joining of bedfellows.”

It declined to give financial details of the deal with Amazon, saying they are “commercially sensitive”.

In the half-year to July 3 the group made a loss of £15 million. Debts jumped from £550 million to £712 million. Food sales are up 6.5% compared to pre pandemic levels.

Murrells says the group is investing heavily in staff and stores.

He says a shortage of lorry drivers is hitting supplies.

“If you got into any retailer today you will see gaps on the shelves, it is not a Co-op problem, it is not a UK problem it is a global problem.”

He says the situation will be mostly resolved come Christmas.

The Co-op has a “ten-point climate plan” including a commitment to match the pricing of own brand plant-based foods with meat-based equivalents.

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