The ben­e­fits of be­ing part of a co-op­er­a­tive

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Et Business -

WHAT do Lionel Messi and John Chill­cott have in com­mon? They both work for a co-op­er­a­tive.

Messi – widely touted as the best foot­baller in the world – plays for Barcelona FC, a Span­ish foot­ball club owned by their fans.

John Chill­cott is chief ex­ec­u­tive of Anglia Co-op­er­a­tive, the Peter­bor­ough-based re­tail Co-op owned by its mem­bers.

Co-op­er­a­tives and their busi­ness style and ethics will be very much in fo­cus when the first-ever Co-op­er­a­tives Fort­night runs from June 19 to July 3.

Anglia Co-op­er­a­tive is one of seven found­ing spon­sors for the fort­night. Dur­ing those 14 days co-op­er­a­tives and com­mu­nity ini­tia­tives of all sizes up and down the coun­try will be show­ing how they work – un­der the ban­ner There is an Al­ter­na­tive.

Anglia Co-op­er­a­tive is a shin­ing ex­am­ple of the co-op­er­a­tive model, with more than 300,000 mem­bers hav­ing a say in how it is run and en­joy­ing a share of the prof­its.

Based at Burch House in Sav­ille Road, Peter­bor­ough, it is the sixth largest con­sumer co­op­er­a­tive in the UK, em­ploy­ing 3,200 peo­ple across busi­nesses as di­verse as food­stores, fur­ni­ture stores, depart­ment stores, fu­neral homes, travel agen­cies and op­ti­cians.

Mr Chill­cott said: “We orig­i­nated over 130 years ago in 1877, born out of the co­op­er­a­tive prin­ci­ples of self-help, self-re­spon­si­bil­ity, democ­racy and equal­ity. But these 19th cen­tury val­ues are still highly rel­e­vant to the chal- lenges for sus­tain­able and fair so­cio-eco­nomic devel­op­ment in the 21st cen­tury.”

Anglia Co-op­er­a­tive is tak­ing a lead role in help­ing other busi­nesses, com­mu­ni­ties and in­di­vid­u­als get in­volved in the co-op­er­a­tive way of do­ing busi­ness.

It is pro­mot­ing a busi­ness net­work­ing event on July 2 to throw the spot­light on co-op­er­a­tives and there is also help avail­able for those wish­ing to ex­plore the po­ten­tial of a co-op­er­a­tive fur­ther.

There are more than 4,800 in­de­pen­dent co-op­er­a­tives in the UK, cov­er­ing a va­ri­ety of ar­eas, in­clud­ing health­care, hous­ing, farms, foot­ball clubs, credit unions and com­mu­nity-owned shops and pubs.

They are busi­nesses, not char­i­ties, and of­ten do bet­ter by work­ing to­gether. Rather than re­ward­ing out­side in­vestors, a co-op­er­a­tive shares its prof­its amongst the mem­bers.

Across the UK, co-op­er­a­tives are owned by more than 11 mil­lion peo­ple – but this mix of self-help and mu­tual aid has made co-op­er­a­tives an in­ter­na­tional force. There are 100 mil­lion peo­ple around the world em­ployed by co-op­er­a­tives and 800 mil­lion peo­ple are mem­bers. In Kenya, for ex­am­ple, small­hold­ers can trade their cof­fee for a fair price only be­cause they are mem­bers of co-op­er­a­tives. In France nine out of 10 farm­ers main­tain their liveli­hood by be­ing part of a co-op­er­a­tive. Mr Chill­cott added: “Co-op­er­a­tion is ‘good busi­ness’ and ‘good for busi­ness’ in the 21st cen­tury and that’s why we are com­mit­ted to demon­strat­ing the co-op­er­a­tive phi­los­o­phy to as many peo­ple as

pos­si­ble.”

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