Students enjoy lower food prices as new University Co-op opens

The start of the new academic year has seen the arrival of the Co-operative onto the University of Kent, Canterbury campus, promising lower prices and shorter queue times. Notable inclusions to the new store include 15 self-checkouts, a hot dog stand and a slushy machine. This follows a drive by the Co-op franchise into the student market, having first opened at Leeds University earlier this year and now also opening a similar store at Newcastle University. Despite the increase in self-checkouts, InQuire have been told this should not affect employment figures. Kent Union shall still manage employment at both stores, with Andrew Duffield, Head of Retail for Kent Union declaring that “employing students remains a key priority for Kent Union”. Opening for the first time on 29 August, the main store follows behind the arrival of its sister shop in Parkwood, which opened in late July. To promote the opening, the Co-op ran a “Golden Ticket” event, whereby finders of a golden ticket on campus would earn themselves rewards in store. Both stores have replaced the old Kent Union brand, The SU Shop, and no University of Kent merchandise will be sold in store anymore. The infamous ‘Hatch’, known to many late night-drinkers, has also remained as part of the transition, opening from midnight Monday to Thursday, until 3am on Friday, but closed for weekends. Customers will be able to get 10% off with a TOTUM or NUS Extra card and a further 5% through a Co-op membership which can be bought for £1.

Reactions from students has so far been positive, with many quick to commend its increased size. One second year philosophy student said: “It feels a lot bigger and I don’t know how they’ve done that. Feels like they’ve done some voodoo or something, but it feels a lot bigger, which I like.” Another student concurred saying that “It’s got a lot bigger, it’s got a lot more selection”, but also noted that “it doesn’t have much lactose-free stuff, which I was expecting it to have more”. A notable complaint was levelled at the closure of the “Hatch” on weekends, as students with anti-social hours or those looking for food on a night-out may no longer have the same food selection. One student claimed that whilst “I suppose they have the vans outside Venue…I would expect the hatch to be open on a weekend”, whilst another said: “First years are going to be struggling, no food in the middle of the night, especially after a night out.” Confirming the introduction of the Co-op last academic year, former Kent Union President, Aaron Thompson, said that he believed the partnership will bring students “better value for money”.

“One of the biggest pieces of feedback we get every year from students is that the prices in the shop are too high and I’m so happy we can finally address this issue.”

“I believe that this partnership will offer Kent students better value for money, bigger product range and even bigger discounts.”