Co-op Kanagawa

134 stores, $1.2 billion annual sales

Co-op Kanagawa, the fourth-largest regional co-op in Japan, is located mainly in Kanagawa prefecture just southwest of Tokyo. Membership was 1 million in 2002 and has increased every year. With 3.5 million total households in Kanagawa prefecture, 30 percent are participating in its largest consumer organization.

Co-op Kanagawa is a consumer cooperative specializing in food, but not limited to it. In 2002 (using an exchange rate of 110 yen/dollar), it generated $1.26 billion dollars in sales, which is called the "amount of supply to the members," and $0.31 billion in gross profit, which is called "total surplus revenue." In the current year the co-op has projected a 4.8% sales increase and 7.3% sales-profit increase over 2002.

Co-op Kanagawa owns its eight-story headquarters, located in Yokohama city, the third largest city of Japan. Now in its 58th year, the co-op was founded in 1946 to ensure a post-war food supply in the Kawasaki area of Kanagawa prefecture. Along with consolidation of several regional co-ops, its membership expanded rapidly. Co-op Kanagawa joined the Japan Co-ops Federation in 1951. Following are some of the co-op's business features and special services.

Food and consumer goods

  • 134 stores in Co-op Kanagawa operate in three sizes: Large stores are stocked with 20,000-30,000 items including food and general merchandise. Medium stores carry mostly foods and some general merchandise. Small stores offer basic food and life necessities and carry at least 1,500 items.
  • Bags are not provided for shoppers but must be purchased for 10 cents each if needed; conservation of resources is emphasized, and the surplus from bag sales is contributed to UNICEF.
  • Private delivery can be requested and is available every week with a minor shipping charge ($1-2).
  • Joint purchasing: if more than three members get together, they can obtain additional savings on standard packaged orders.
  • For persons with reading difficulties because of eye problems, the co-op provides cassette-tape services that list merchandise.
  • In order to provide the delivery services, the co-op has established many local distributor services.

Life support businesses

Life/medical insurance is provided through the co-op, a mutual-benefit term life plan with 15% payback of the premium and good compensation features for injury and sickness. Since its inception on 1987, participation has steadily increased to 176,000 in 2002.

Periodicals/marketing

Co-op catalogues are free and renewed monthly; they offer foods, life necessities, general merchandise, appliances, clothing, furniture, bedding, and seasonal goods. Semi-annual gift catalogues include nationwide delivery of co-op gifts. Internet shopping is available at all times through toll-free telephone and fax lines.

Travel/ticketing

The co-op provides travel and ticketing services to members for air, rail, automobiles, and hotels, and it sells tickets to amusement parks, recreation facilities, movies, music, and various events. Co-op Kanagawa also provides services such as automobile inspection, home remodel, and driving-school training, usually in collaboration with conventional businesses.

Welfare businesses

With the growing number of senior members, welfare business is a promising sector.

Co-op Kanagawa:

  • Handles application services for governmental long-term care seekers who have medical doctor authorization;
  • Provides services to dispatch home-helpers for personal care or household assistance;
  • Provides daycare-service at its own care-service centers;
  • Rents welfare-goods to caretakers;
  • Offers other child-care, baby-sitter, and maternity care services;
  • Delivers ready-to-eat meals to the members who have difficulty preparing meals;
  • Provides home-helper training and encourages members to become new helpers. Funeral services Funeral services are offered by 22 local co-ops in the Co-op Kanagawa. These co-ops provide reasonable costs and comprehensive assistance from pre-consultation to post-service and occasionally hold funeral seminars for the members. 2003 summary Co-op Kanagawa's 2003 general meeting provided a farm tour, recycle plan tour, and a food safety seminar; the following items were highlighted in the annual report:
  • 2002 operating profit (surplus) was $8.22 million.
  • Co-op store usage increased at the large-size stores but decreased at the small-size stores. Overall co-op store business declined slightly.
  • The most profitable businesses are private delivery/joint purchasing and life/medical insurance.
  • Plans emphasize modernization of stores and consolidation of small stores into larger stores.
  • There is a continuing need to make co-op information available to the public.
  • The co-op expanded its food inspection and analysis to cover 12,712 items at its merchandise inspection center and started experiments for traceability on meat in particular.
  • Co-op Kanagawa contributed funds of $75,800 to UNICEF and appealed for peace worldwide.
See other articles from this issue: #110 January - February - 2004