24 October 2008

Suma to Supply Greenpeace's Rainbow Warrior

Suma, the UK's largest independent wholefood wholesaler and distributor, has won the contract to re-supply The Rainbow Warrior, Greenpeace's famous floating environmental flagship.

Suma is a worker co-operative based in a purpose built factory in Halifax. Formed in 1975 it has grown to nearly 150 employees who all receive equal pay and democratically own and control the business together. Full Story

13 October 2008

Infinity Foods racks up another award

Infinity Foods, a worker co-operative wholesaler, shop and restaurant in Brighton has won the Brighton and Hove Responsible Business Award and was runner up in the Independent Retailer of the Year Award.

With over 200 entries from 150 businesses this year, the Brighton and Hove Business Awards are designed to raise awareness and celebrate the diversity of businesses trading in Brighton. The award ceremony was held at the Brighton Hilton Metropole hotel.

This was the first time Infinity Foods had entered the awards. The co-operative entered three categories, were shortlisted for two, won one, and came runner up in another.

Scott Muir, a member of Infinity Foods who received the award on their behalf, says: “It is fantastic that Infinity has been recognised by this prestigious city award. As a worker co-operative our values are at the fore of everything we do.”

The Responsible Business Award is intended to recognise a business’s environmental impact through its business practices, programmes and investments, and it’s not surprising that Infinity Foods won.

Not only have they been selling organic wholefoods in Brighton for over 30 years but they have many other social and environmental policies. The majority of staff walk, cycle or use public transport to get to work; the shop is fitted with natural, sustainable materials; the lighting is 85% energy efficient and all their energy is sourced from renewable sources; they support local suppliers and producers and their delivery vehicles run on bio-diesel made from reprocessed used vegetable oil.

Infinity Foods is a member of Co-operativesUK. Find out more about Infinity Foods at www.infinityfoods.co.uk.

Employee Co-operative Council

The Employee Co-operative Council met last week in Manchester.

The ECC represents the views of Worker Co-operative members of Co-operatives UK and acts as a sounding board for policy and strategy. Topics covered at the meeting include:
  • Membership Strategy and improving services
  • Marketing the Co-operative Advantage
  • Promoting and developing The Code of Governance
  • Feedback from events
  • Planning for future events
The ECC meets four times a year; has 8 elected representatives and 1 co-opted member representing CDB's.

10 October 2008

CECOP Conference

Last week I attended a European Worker Co-operatives Conference organised by CECOP in Brussels. This event was a chance to bring worker co-operatives together from all over Europe to swap information and learn from each other.

The worker co-operative model in other countries; especially Italy and Spain is a lot more developed and more numerous than in the UK. The Mondragon Corporation is the largest worker co-operative in the world and the 7th largest businesses in Spain.

We promoted The Worker Co-operative Code of Governance and have sent it to CECOP so it can be translated into other languages. There was particular interest in translating The Code into Spanish, for use in Latin America.

The conference was mainly focused on European structural funds, co-operative financial support organisation and changes to European legislation affecting Social Co-operatives; a term we do not use much in this country but broadly refers to co-operatives dealing with social care or employing dis-advantaged people.

Member visit Eighth Day

I have been very busy recently on the 3rd October I visited Eighth Day, one of Co-operatives UK members. They are a vegetarian cafe and health food shop located on Oxford Road, Manchester. They were established in 1970 and have been a workers co-operative since 1976.
Interestingly they have a couple of staff trained to give nutrional advice and one person trained to give advice on skincare. This seems like a good way to differentiate themselves from other competitors.