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What is a co-operative?

Where co-operatives began

In 1844 the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society was established and opened a store selling pure food at fair prices, using honest weights and measures. This was the beginning of the business revolution now known as the co-operative movement  and includes a billion co-operators and 1.4 million co-operative societies across the world.

"The Rochdale Pioneers would not recognise the broadband internet services offered by The Phone Co-op, but they would recognise the spirit that continues to drive it."
The Guardian

For over 150 years, co‑operatives have been showing the world there is a different way of doing business, whether the industry is housing, finance or transport.

Co-operatives organisations are owned and run by and for their members. They share their profits with their members and operate both ethically and democratically for the good of its employees, customers, members and the wider community.

All co-operatives are governed by the same core principles.

How we put co-operative principles into practice:

  • Democracy… members vote on important decisions and make up the Board.
  • Openness… our pricing structure is transparent and our communications are clearly worded.
  • Equity… we conduct all our business in a fair and just way.
  • Solidarity… we help other co-operative projects to thrive.

We believe that the co-operative business model can help build a fairer and more sustainable society for everyone.

A different way of doing business

While other businesses focus on the pursuit of profits at all costs, we think about our impact on the world and how we can make it a better place while still giving our customers the best possible service.

We give something back

We tread lightly

  • Our electricity comes from renewable sources.
  • We offset our own CO2 emissions and those of our suppliers.
  • We choose ethical suppliers, locally where possible, and treat them fairly.

Need help?

Call us on 01608 434 000 for assistance, or send us an e-mail and we'll call you.

A co-operative explained