Midcounties Co-operative

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Not to be confused with Midlands Co-operative Society.
The Midcounties Co-operative Limited
Type Consumer Co-operative
Industry Retail (Wholesale)
Founded 2005 (1853)
Headquarters Warwick Technology Park
Products Food, Pharmacy, Funeralcare, Travel, Childcare, Post Office Flexible Benefits and Energy
Revenue £1.167 billion
Employees 9,487
Website www.midcounties.coop

The Midcounties Co-operative Limited is the largest independent consumer co-operative in the United Kingdom.[1] Registered in England under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014, it is a member of Co-operatives UK and the Co-operative Retail Trading Group.

The Society's principal activity is retailing in the mid counties of England. Its trading groups are Food, Funeralcare, Travel, Pharmacy, Post Office, Childcare, Flexible Benefits and Energy. The Midcounties Co-operative has its headquarters in Warwickshire, with trading outlets in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Shropshire, West Midlands, Worcestershire and the surrounding counties, but also has a national trading presence through its Travel, Childcare, Energy and Flexible Benefits businesses. As of mid 2013, Midcounties became a £1bn business with more than 500 sites and 439,000 members. The Society has been ranked in The Sunday Times Best 100 Companies To Work For list in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Its mission statement is 'To be a successful consumer co-operative working towards creating a better, fairer world, and to enhance the lives of our colleagues, members, customers, and the communities we serve'.

It has also invested in Westmill Wind Farm Co-operative in Watchfield, Oxfordshire, identified by its promoters as the UK's largest community-owned wind farm at its opening in 2008.[2]

The founding (non-executive) president is Patrick Gray.

History[edit]

The Midcounties Co-operative was formed on 24 September 2005 by the merger of the Oxford, Swindon and Gloucester Co-operative Society (OSG) and the West Midlands Co-operative Society (WMCS). As a result, the Society's geographical trading area spans seven counties, including Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire. Following the inception and growth of the Travel, Childcare, Flexible Benefits and Energy businesses, it is now a nationally trading Society.

Some of the earliest predecessor societies that combined with others to eventually form The Midcounties Co-operative are:

The Society is governed by general meetings of its members.
Community Formed
Swindon 1853
Gloucester 1860
Chipping Norton 1866
Walsall 1866
Oxford 1872
Cinderford 1874

Businesses[edit]

The Co-operative food store in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire.

The Midcounties Co-operative is one of several independent co-operatives that uses The Co-operative brand across its businesses. These are:

Food[edit]

The Midcounties Co-operative is one of the largest independent food retailers in the country with 238 stores, operating as The Co-operative Food.

Pharmacy[edit]

The Midcounties Co-operative owns 46 pharmacies, operating as The Co-operative Pharmacy. The group offers a wide range of extended services to customers, such as support to quit smoking, medicine use reviews, a weight management service and asthma reviews.The Pharmacy group controls the www.co-operativehealthcare.co.uk website and in 2013 launched a new Online Doctor service providing online medical care and prescriptions direct to customers' homes.

Funeralcare[edit]

The Midcounties Co-operative, operating as The Co-operative Funeralcare, owns 80 funeral homes and three masonry sites. The group has over 150 years' experience in providing Funeralcare to its local communities.

Travel[edit]

The Midcounties Co-operative operates 57 travel branches across Midcounties' trading area and controls the www.cooptravel.co.uk website.

Childcare[edit]

In 2002, the Society became the first UK co-operative to open a children's day care facility. Co-operative Childcare now operates 50 nurseries across the UK. The acquisition of the Buffer Bear nursery chain in 2010 saw its Childcare business begin to trade nationally, with nurseries spanning from Newcastle to Southampton.

Energy[edit]

The Midcounties Co-operative's award-winning Energy business supplies gas and electricity to UK homes, Co-operative Energy, is committed to providing low carbon energy with simple tariffs with clear billing. The Co-operative Energy currently has 204,000 customers.

Co-operative Flexible Benefits[edit]

Co-operative Flexible Benefits turned over £28m in 2013/14, providing Childcare Voucher and Cycle to Work schemes. They currently service over 970 employers.

Post Office[edit]

The Midcounties Co-operative operates 74 Post Offices employing 293 colleagues, remaining the fourth largest multiple operator of Post Offices in the UK.

Former Businesses[edit]

Motorworld (also known as The Co-operative Motors) was a co-operative car dealership. Its franchises included Volkswagen, Audi, Volvo, Mitsubishi, Mazda and Hyundai. The Midcounties Co-operative intended it to be the most socially responsible car dealership in the UK, but sold it off in January 2010 at a loss of £2.4 million.[3][4]

Membership[edit]

Membership is open to all, with members receiving a share of the profits in the form of dividend. When members join they are required to invest a minimum of £1 which entitles them to a share in the business. The scheme is run in conjunction with The Co-operative Group membership, allowing a Midcounties card to be used at businesses operated by other participating societies.

The membership card allows members to collect points either by spending in stores or attending events. Points are converted to vouchers twice yearly, usually in May and November. The vouchers can be spent in any of The Midcounties Co-operative's trading outlets, paid into the member's share account or donated to charity.

Values[edit]

The Midcounties Co-operative has four values on which the business is run, consisting of Democracy, Openness, Equality and Social Responsibility. These values are dervied from the Co-operative Movement's founding values. The Society is run in a democratic way, with its Board of Directors voted for by its members, it aims to be open and honest with its colleagues and members, strives to promote and embrace equality and is committed to helping its local communities through grant giving and volunteer work, and it also aims to be more environmentally friendly.

Key achievements[edit]

The Society was ranked in The Sunday Times Best Big Companies To Work For in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Co-operative Energy received an award from independent consumer body, Which?, for Consumer Action.

The Society was awarded Platinum in the Business in the Community Corporate Responsibility Index 2012 and 2013.

Co-operative Energy won Best Corporate Venture at the UK Corporate Entrepreneur Awards 2011.

Co-operative Employee Benefits achieved the ISO9001 standard, which acknowledges the quality of the management system they have in place.

The Society was one of the first businesses to be awarded the Fair Tax Mark.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ After The Co-operative Group, see p.34 The UK co-operative economy 2012 – alternatives to austerity Co-operatives UK (retrieved 16 January 2014)
  2. ^ Westmill Wind Farm Celebrates Success of Public Share Launch Energy4All Press Release, 5 December 2005
  3. ^ AM Online
  4. ^ Annual Report and Accounts

External links[edit]