Cooperative activities and co-op membership

Cooperative activities are business operations that emphasise both financial profitability and social responsibility. The traditional principles of cooperative activities continue to serve as the foundation for S Group's operations. These principles include open membership, democracy, equality and purchase rewards for members, as well as the distribution of surplus – that is, the members' direct share of the company's result. The 20 regional cooperatives of S Group are independently responsible for their business operations, and S Group cannot be sold to foreign owners. S Group takes good care of its employees and takes account of their various life situations.

S Group is owned by customers. Customers become co-op members by paying a membership fee. Co-op membership has three aspects.

My store:

All co-op members own an equal share of their cooperative. S Group's numerous outlets and the products, services and benefits they offer are at co-op members' disposal. 

 

My benefits:

The only objective of the cooperative activities is to serve the needs of the co-op members. The extensive network of cooperative outlets provides a one-stop shop for everything you need, at a reasonable price. The co-op members also receive benefits, with the most important benefit being the Bonus reward for centralising purchases.

 

Our advantage:

A cooperative is a Finnish enterprise. Most of the taxes paid by S Group and the advantages gained from procurement and construction remain in the region. In addition, S Group's cooperatives and SOK Corporation constitute the largest private employer in Finland.

 

S Group always reserves the best benefits for its co-op members. In addition to receiving Bonus and payment-method benefits, members are entitled to discounts at cafés, restaurants, hotels, department stores and speciality stores with the S-Etukortti Card.

 

Co-op membership

 

Who is a co-op member?

In S Group, being a co-op member means the same as being a member. In other words, a co-op member is a member of a cooperative – such as HOK-Elanto or Arina – belonging to S Group.

 

What does being a co-op member mean?

Co-op members are owners and customers of their cooperatives at the same time. Each co-op member has invested an equal amount of equity in their cooperative, as a membership fee.

Co-op members are equal to one another, in accordance with the principle of one vote per member.

 

How can I become a co-op member?

You can become a co-op member by signing a co-op membership agreement. In addition, you are required to have a Finnish personal identity code and a permanent address in Finland. In most cooperatives, you can become a co-op member by paying a partial membership fee when joining. You can accumulate the rest of the membership fee through Bonus, for example, within a specific period of time.  A membership fee is an investment that will be returned to you, in accordance with the rules of the cooperative, if you decide to resign your membership. The amount of the membership fee is the same for all members of a cooperative. You can become a member at most S Group outlets and through the S-kanava online service.

 

What is the S-Etukortti Card?

The S-Etukortti Card is a co-op membership card and identifier that entitles its holder to co-op member benefits. Every member of a co-op member household can obtain an S-Etukortti Card by completing an application. Most co-op member benefits are specific to a household, meaning that only one member of the household needs to be a co-op member. After one member of a household has become a co-op member, the other members of the household can obtain personal S-Etukortti Cards free of charge by completing an application.

If a co-op member or a member of their household so desires, they can include payment functionalities provided by S-Bank in their S-Etukortti Card free of charge.

 

How is Bonus accumulated?

Bonus is a purchase reward that is paid on purchases made at Bonus outlets when an S-Etukortti Card is presented in conjunction with the purchase. Some partners require co-op members to submit their membership number in accordance with specific instructions before Bonus can be paid.

Bonus is determined by the total monthly purchases of the co-op member household. It is based on a cooperative-specific, progressive Bonus table, with the maximum purchase reward rate being 5%. The progressive tables vary by each specific cooperative to some degree.

The Bonus accumulated over a month is paid to the account that the co-op member has designated as their purchase reward payment account. The Bonus is paid by the tenth day of the following month. HOK-Elanto uses Bonus vouchers to pay the purchase reward to members who do not have a purchase reward payment account with S-Bank.

Bonus is granted to private individuals for purchases related to a private household. Bonus is not paid on purchases made using a company card, purchases that are invoiced or purchases that are subject to contract prices. In addition, Bonus is not paid on gift cards, bottle deposits or traded products, such as Veikkaus games or the recharging of travel cards. Restrictions apply to accumulating Bonus at automotive outlets, Sokos hotels and Agrimarket stores and from partners. These restrictions are explained on the S-kanava online service and the websites of the partners that apply special conditions.

 

How can purchases made at outlets not belonging to S Group accumulate Bonus?

Bonus partnerships serve to meet the demand not covered by S Group's own operations. Bonus partners help S Group to fulfil its promise of diverse and comprehensive services and meet its co-op members' needs. Bonus partnerships also enable co-op members to accumulate more Bonus and receive better benefits.

Partnership agreements aim for extensive cooperation over the long term. The partners must be reliable and complement S Group's range of products and services, instead of competing with it. The level of satisfaction with the services provided by partners among co-op members is measured by carrying out an annual survey. The results of the survey are reviewed with the partners. Bonus partnerships can be discontinued if the conditions or preconditions for cooperation change.

 

What is the payment-method benefit?

The payment-method benefit is a co-op member benefit of 0.5% that is given on the total sum of purchases paid for with an S-Etukortti Card in S Group's outlets in Finland. The payment-method benefit accrues on all purchases covered by the payment-method benefit scheme that are paid for with any of the S-Etukortti Cards belonging to the members of a co-op member household. The accrued payment-method benefit is paid to the S-Bank purchase reward payment account of the main member of the co-op member household. The benefit is paid by the tenth day of the following month.

As a rule, the payment-method benefit is based on the total sum of the entire purchase. At S Group automotive outlets, the benefit is paid on maintenance, spare parts and supplies, but not on purchasing a car. At Agrimarket and S-Rautamarket stores, the payment-method benefit is paid on all purchases covered by Bonus. The payment-method benefit does not accrue for traded products, such as Veikkaus games.

 

What is an S account?

An S account is opened with S-Bank for co-op members for the payment of Bonus and other cash benefits when they become members of a cooperative. An S account is a current account that is free of charge for co-op members and the members of a co-op household and can be used for paying with an S-Etukortti Card. Money can be deposited in and withdrawn from the account at check-out accounts at stores.

 

Bonus sales outlets of S Group

The Bonus sales outlets of S Group include S-market, Prisma, Sale, Alepa, Sokos, Emotion and Pukumies stores; Sokos Hotels and Radisson Blu hotels in Finland; Rosso, Sevilla, Fransmanni, Memphis, Amarillo, Torero, Buffa, Coffee House, Presso, Public Corner and other S Group restaurants; S-Rauta and Kodin Terra stores; S Group automotive outlets; Karla, ABC service station stores, unmanned ABC stations and Bonus service stations.

In addition to the Bonus outlets in Finland, Bonus is accrued for purchases made using an S-Etukortti Card in separately specified S Group outlets abroad.

 

Partners' Bonus outlets

Partners paying Bonus for purchases include Elisa, Hertz, Hammassairaala Oral, Silmäasema stores and LocalTapiola.

In addition, cooperatives have regional partners.

 

What data is collected about co-op members?

The customer register of the cooperatives of S Group, as well as other customer data related to co-op members and their co-op households, is managed through the S Group co-op member and customer register. A description of the personal data file, in accordance with the Personal Data Act, is available on the S-kanava online service at S-kanava.fi/rekisteriseloste.

 

The data stored in the S Group co-op member and customer register is based on the information provided by the customer in connection with their co-op membership agreement or later. In addition, to determine Bonus, payment-method benefits and surplus distribution, the total sums of purchases on receipts are processed in the register. The data content of the register is presented in more detail in the description of the personal data file.

 

How is the data used?

The data in the S Group co-op member and customer register is used to manage membership and co-op member relationships and other customer relationships and for communication with customers. The data can also be used for business planning and development purposes (such as customer surveys carried out by email). In addition, the data in the register can be used for direct marketing carried out by S Group (cooperatives and SOK Corporation and its subsidiaries) and its partners, unless separately prohibited by the customer. Customers can refuse to receive surveys and marketing messages by notifying the S Group Customer Service. Registered data is not disclosed to be used for purposes outside the S Group co-op member system. In accordance with the Cooperatives Act, a cooperative must maintain a membership list. The name and address of each member must be recorded in the membership list, along with their date of membership and the number of shares held by them. Members and creditors, as well as other parties whose interest so requires, are entitled to study the list and receive copies of the list for a fee.

 

 How is data protection ensured for co-op members?

The cooperatives protect the privacy of their co-op members and customers and actively provide information about their data protection principles. The cooperatives process personal data in accordance with the privacy laws and decrees of Finland.

Employees who process co-op member data are required to sign a non-disclosure agreement. S Group never discloses any of its co-op member or customer register data to third parties, not even to partners. Data is only disclosed to the authorities, based on specific official requests, presupposing a legal right to investigate.

 

How is the co-op membership concept being developed?

As the purpose of S Group's operations is to offer services and benefits to co-op members, S Group will continue to provide its co-op members with improved services and even more significant benefits.

The primary goal is to provide the services efficiently, reliably and affordably. Co-op members must be able to buy their groceries at their cooperative at a lower price than they can be purchased at competing stores.

Another important goal is to further develop the service network and the range of products and services to even better meet co-op members' needs.

The third goal is to strengthen co-op member relationships, expand the use of services and reward co-op members for using services, in accordance with the principles of cooperative activities. The benefits offered by the cooperatives must be attractive to and beneficial for co-op member households of all types.

 

Co-op membership terminology

 

Co-op member

A co-op member is an individual member of S Group's co-op membership system.

 

Co-op member household

A co-op member household consists of the co-op member and the members of their household who jointly accrue Bonus and payment-method benefits for the household.

 

Co-op member benefits

Co-op member benefits are based on membership and the use of services. All co-op members are entitled to membership-based benefits, which include product and service benefits, member mailing, interest on the membership fee and the daily banking services provided free of charge for co-op members by S-Bank, as well as opportunities to influence. Benefits based on the use of services include Bonus, the payment-method benefit and the distribution of surplus – that is, the direct share of the result. However, the best benefit for co-op members is the diverse, comprehensive range of affordable services that meet their specific needs.

 

Member mailing

A member mailing is sent monthly to co-op members who make purchases. It includes a Bonus calculation, messages from the cooperative, information about co-op member benefits and either the Yhteishyvä or Samarbete magazine, among other items.

 

Regional cooperative

S Group consists of SOK Corporation and a total of 20 regional cooperatives. In addition, S Group includes eight small local cooperatives. The purpose of the cooperatives is to provide services that meet the basic needs of their co-op members in their areas of operation.

 

Bonus

The Bonus is a purchase reward paid on purchases from S Group and its partners. The Bonus amount is determined by the total monthly purchases of the co-op member household in accordance with the Bonus table of the relevant cooperative.

 

Bonus outlet

An outlet of S Group or its partners where Bonus is accrued on purchases.

 

Council of Representatives

The members of a Council of Representatives are elected from among the members of a cooperative every four years. They are elected by the members (co-op members) in accordance with the principle of one vote per member. The Council of Representatives exercises the power of decision belonging to the members of a regional cooperative. It decides on confirming the income statement and balance sheet, amending the rules of the cooperative and discontinuing or merging the cooperative, among other issues. The Council of Representatives exercises supervisory authority and power of appointment, but it has no authority over the structure of store networks or charitable donations, for example.

 

Payment account for benefits

Cooperatives pay cash benefits, such as Bonus and the payment-method benefit, into a co-op member's designated payment account for benefits with S-Bank.

 

Member

A person who has joined a cooperative as a member. The individual members of S Group cooperatives are called co-op members.

 

Payment-method benefit

The payment-method benefit is a co-op member benefit of 0.5% that is given on the total sum of purchases paid for with an S-Etukortti Card in S Group's outlets in Finland. The payment-method benefit accrues on all purchases that are paid for with any of the S-Etukortti Cards of the members of a co-op member household. The accrued payment-method benefit is paid to the S-Bank payment account for benefits of the main member of the co-op member household.

 

Membership fee

A co-op member must pay a membership fee. This is an equity investment in a cooperative and is returned in full if the member decides to resign their membership.

For most cooperatives, the membership fee does not need to be paid in full in one go. Instead, the new member can pay a partial membership fee and accumulate the rest of the membership fee through Bonus or pay it within a specific period of time.

 

Interest on the membership fee

Surplus resulting from business operations can be returned to members by paying interest on their membership fees, for example. The Council of Representatives annually decides on paying interest on the membership fee at the Board of Director's proposition.

 

S-Etukortti Card

The S-Etukortti Card is a co-op membership card and identifier. It entitles its holder to Bonus on their purchases, and payment functionalities provided by S-Bank can be included in the card. In addition, the payment-method benefit is paid on purchases made using an S-Etukortti Card.

 

Partner

A company that has entered into a cooperation agreement with S Group and that pays Bonus or other benefits on purchases of its products and services made by co-op members.

 

Return of surplus

A cooperative's Council of Representatives may annually decide to distribute a return of surplus based on its operating result. The return of the surplus to be paid is determined on the basis of the purchases made by the co-op member household in the cooperative during the financial period, based on the percentage determined by the Council of Representatives.