Business Model: Green Valley Grocer

The cooperative provides fresh fruit, vegetables and bread to the community in Slaithwaite

The Green Valley Grocer is a cooperative that provides fresh fruit, vegetables and bread to the community in Slaithwaite, near Huddersfield.

The Green Valley Grocer is owned by Slaithwaite Cooperative Limited, a group formed by villagers in May this year after its previous owner decided to sell up and could not find a buyer.

"People in the village felt it would be bad for everyone if the business shut down," says Graham Mitchell, one of the founding members of the cooperative. "So we decided to buy it and hold it in community ownership.

"We got a business plan together, registered a cooperative and held a meeting."

The group intended to raise £15,000 and set itself a target of doing so in about a month. It actually raised about £18,500 from 120 shareholders. The shop was able to reopen in July, six weeks after it shut its doors.

"We knew we had to do it quickly - that if we took our time, a lot of trade would have moved elsewhere," says Mitchell.

He believes much of the shop's appeal lies in the fact that it is community-owned and sells produce developed by local communities.

"The business has done much better than we planned for," he says.

Mitchell is confident that the shop will be able to pay a dividend to shareholders that will return their capital.

"We won't pay a dividend for the first two years," he says. "Thereafter it will depend on profitability, but we're making twice what we budgeted for at the moment."

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