Cooperatives 'thriving despite recession'

Co-operative Group and John Lewis Partnership lead growing and prospering sector, says Co-operatives UK

The collective annual turnover of cooperative businesses in the UK is almost £29bn, according to a report by umbrella body Co-operatives UK.

In a presentation at Co-operatives UK's annual conference, Ben Reid, the organisation's chair, said there were now 4,820 cooperatives in the UK, with 11.3 million members and 200,000 employees.

The UK's largest cooperative was the Co-operative Group, and the second largest was the John Lewis Partnership, he said.

"Despite the economic recession, cooperative businesses have maintained the momentum of recent years and continue to grow and prosper," said Reid.

"However, the sector must not be complacent. We know that cooperatives offer a better way of doing business, so we must keep pushing to get our message across to more people."

In a survey of the chief executives of the 100 biggest cooperatives, released at the same event, 86 respondents said they felt there had never been a better time to promote the cooperative movement.

A similar number felt that cooperatives and mutuals should work together to promote their values and image.

Two-thirds of chief executives thought the recession would make cooperatives more competitive, and almost three-quarters said the sector's long-term business models meant it was well placed to weather the financial climate.

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