Store refresh part of co-op plans

Sjanna SandalovaGreat Southern Herald

The BKW Co-Operative has been an iconic business in Katanning since 1921 and is now one of the few of its kind left in all of Australia.

The 96-year-old one-stop shop has the reputation of being a community-orientated business, serving as a meeting spot and department store.

Under a newly appointed management team, a refresh program is in progress to revitalise the co-op’s look and brand.

General manager Peter Moore said he wanted to provide the community with a better shopping experience.

“We still want to keep the co-op as a place where people come to meet and do their shopping but our refresh program plans to revitalise the co-op, reinvest and look at areas of apparel that appeal to the demographic of 18-35,” Mr Moore said.

“We will be focusing on the condition of the building, availability of our stock and the type of products we sell.”

Chairman Norman Flugge said they have been listening closely to the criticism and feedback from focus groups and the co-op’s Facebook page.

“We’ve come to the point where we’ve needed to make some changes in management and also within the board, and we are an old institution, so some of the things we’ve been doing don’t fit the new retail expectations of our customers,” he said.

“We need to lift our profile and part of that is by refreshing the store so it’s more visible.”

The refresh program also aims to focus on building relationships, as well as making the store a top destination for employment.

“In the last 10 weeks we hired 10 more employees. We want to become people’s first choice when looking for employment,” Mr Moore said.

“The foundation of our business is the team, we don’t use the word staff.

“Now we are going to link ourselves to the high school and we want to bring in a workplace experience program.

“We want to be a succession planning business so that we can facilitate and coach young people.”

Over the next few months, the community will already start to see changes being made to the signage, in-store layout and in-store brands and products within the co-op.

Mr Flugge said refreshing the business was the only way it could move forward.

“It’s important for us to recognise the old model of Katanning which was very agricultural- focused that had long and stable ties with the co-op. That’s not there now,” he said.

“It’s a different place to what it was 20-40 years ago.

“We are going to engage with our customers, stakeholders and shareholders and make sure we are delivering what they want.”

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