The Co-Operative Group

The CO-OPERATIVE GROUP is the UK’s largest mutual retailer.

The Co-Operative Group is the UK’s largest mutual retailer. It is the fifth largest food retailer, the third largest retail pharmacy chain, the number one provider of funeral services and the largest independent travel business. It also has strong market positions in banking and insurance.

There is little doubt here at the Co-Op that document management has transformed our business, it is the efficiency in working and reduced time searching for the documents that is the most obvious benefit.

Matthew Allen, Business Manager, The Co-Operative Group


The Group employs 85,000 people, has three million members and over 4,300 retail outlets. These figures are constantly on the increase as the group continues to grow, acquiring businesses, properties, growing its employee base and inevitably increasing an already unmanageable mountain of paper documents across its corporate divisions. The group realised that it had to take hold of the growing paper mountain and consider investing in a company-wide document management system.

Early 2006 the group services team at the Co-Op began the search for an integrated workflow and document management system that would suit the needs of its rather fragmented business, addressing small to large implementations across a number of key departments and eventually to roll out across the business.

EASY SOFTWARE was selected over a number of suppliers and work began to implement the necessary hardware and software to support the first document management implementation in the Group Risk and Insurance Division (GRID).


The Group Risk & Insurance division provides insurance for all the stores as well as general insurance services. Documents include claims, invoices, letters, associated images and pictures. As a first, small project this enabled the services team to build its knowledge of back-scanning, indexing techniques, storage and retention terms etc. All information relating to claims and incidents were scanned and captured on the new EASY electronic document management system. The system proved a success and enabled the risk and insurance team to move to a new floor without taking their documents with them.


This small initial success gave the team the confidence to take on the HR department; a huge department looking after files and documents for 85,000 active employees plus 120,000 leaver information.

The Co-Op’s HR department application focused on those documents that needed to be stored and retained for legal reasons. 600,000 documents each with multiple pages amounting to over 1 million pieces of paper. “These are very important documents core to group compliance and an audit trail of their management and storage is critical”, explains Matthew.”

Months of document scanning involving an external document scanning bureau, Graphic Data, saw the paper documents converted to electronic files enabling HR staff to access over 1 million pieces of paper in seconds without having to leave their desk.

“The electronic environment makes a huge difference to staff productivity and efficiency,” adds Matthew. “HR staff have information at the touch of a button without having to wade through files of paper documents. So time utilisation has improved enormously. Also we have taken a retrieval process that used to take hours and reduced it to seconds. From a corporate compliance point of view the HR documents now contain full audit trails, they can’t be deleted and they can’t be mislaid and this is a critical position for documents with such high legal value.”

The EASY system now operates an internal post-room where the dedicated scanning team cleanses, scans and indexes an average of 1,000 HR documents each day. This is HR Records Management in practice. EASY HR Records Management has allowed the Co-Op to manage their digital personnel and company files more efficiently than ever.

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