05 June 2009

Member Visit: Infinity Foods

Founded in 1971, Infinity has grown from a student run Cafe to a £14m turnover business owned and controlled by its worker members. Infinity Food is spread over 3 business locations in Brighton. A shop & bakery selling wholefoods and ethical lifestyle products, a cafe and a large wholesale and distribution operation.

The 3 parts of the business are relatively autonomous with their own member meetings to decide on operational issues. Representatives from each part of the business are elected by members to sit on a co-operative wide management committee to look at legal and strategic issues. Infinity has 70+ members and operates a broadly equal pay, and profits distribution model within each business, similar to a lot of worker co-operatives. Infinity used to be a member of ICOM and has a strong common ownership and co-operative ethos.

Steven Kay and I visited to find out how they measure commercial, co-operative, environmental and social performance. We are looking to improve and standardise measures across worker co-operatives to facilitate benchmarking and sharing of good practice.

As an example Infinity source all their electricity from good energy and disperse some of their profits to member chosen good causes.

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