Radstock Co-operative Society – formed in 1868 to serve the mining community in the Somerset town – has reached the 150-year milestone.
The society traces its roots back to March 1868, when there was a preliminary meeting at the town’s Workingman’s Hall to establish the Radstock Co-operative and Industrial Society.
It began trading the following year from a purpose-built store at 3 Wells Road – still the location of the current head office.
It now has 18 convenience stores, a large supermarket with a non-food offering, food hall and travel agency and a 1,000 acre dairy farm, and at the time of its latest annual report its membership stood at 14.429. Those results saw an increase in sales by over 10% to £42.4m. Some of this growth came from the opening of three new stores during the year, but like-for-like sales also showed a healthy increase of 4.1% on the previous year.
Chief executive Don Morris said: “I am extremely proud of the society’s heritage and its service to our local communities over the past 150 years. The Society’s longevity can be attributed to its commitment to co-operative principles and its resolve to remain independent.
“Although the society has faced many challenges throughout its history, today we are a vibrant and expanding co-operative business.”
And as it turns 150, the society is making plans for the future, with a newly acquired convenience store set to open later this summer in Haywood Village, Weston-super-Mare. And it is about to go out to consultation on proposals for the redevelopment of the Radco site, which has played a pivotal role in the society’s history.
Radstock is also celebrating its journey so far, commissioning a book telling its story from the first meeting where co-operators declared their intent to support the local community through the co-operative model. A book launch and signing was held at the Radstock Museum in May, attended by local dignitaries, many of the society’s key business partners and associates, directors and contributors to the book.
And Radstock Museum is running an exhibition illustrating the co-op’s history in pictures, artefacts and documentary evidence, until August.
All of the society’s stores are taking in local themed events, each representing a decade in the period from 1868 to 2018, with displays reflecting chosen themes ranging from the Suffragettes to rock’n’roll.
In May, there was also a grand 150-year celebration evening at Bath Pavilion to recognise the society’s achievements over the years and pay tribute to individual colleagues and team. Guest of honour was the chair of Bath and North East Somerset Councill, Karen Walker, alongside representatives East of England and Central England co-operatives.
A spokesperson for Radstock said: “The society is proud of its mining heritage and humble roots and pays tribute to the foresight of the founding members who recognised by working together co-operatively reaps benefits for all.
“It is this spirit that the society continues to grow and prosper which helps to support sustainable communities within its trading areas. The society, while reflecting on the past in this 150 anniversary year, it is also looking forward to the future with optimism, excitement and enthusiasm.”
Key dates in the Radstock story
March 1868: Meeting at the Workingman’s Hall, Radstock to establish the Radstock Co-operative and Industrial Society
1877 The society starts trading from a new purpose built store at 3 Wells Road, Radstock, which is the location of the current head office
1908 The society opens a store at Peasdown St John
1959 Opening of the society’s Radstock Superstore
1924 Opening of a store at Chew Magna
1985 Re-opening of the redeveloped Radstock Superstore – renamed Radco – by radio DJ David Hamilton
1997 Cessation of the daily doorstep milk delivery round
2008 New local convenience store opened in Shepton mallet
2009 RCS hold first annual gala awards and fund-raising evening. New store in Coleford is opened.
2012 New store in Frome opened saving the Post Office from closure
2014 Another new store, former Little Chef, in Farrington Gurney
2015 Purpose built store in Fromefield opens with exciting design features.
2015 Radstock gains the Fair Tax Mark
2017 Society expands into Wiltshire with new store in store in Hilperton village, near Trowbridge