Co-op Group sells the Big Issue as Covid-19 halts street vending

The retailer will replicate the agreement street sellers have with the magazine, whereby they receive 50% of the sale price

The Big Issue magazine is now available in Co-op Group stores.

Sold by vulnerable people, the Big Issue is produced by a social enterprise founded 29 years ago in response to the growing number of rough sleepers on the streets of London.

Vendors buy The Big Issue for £1.25 per copy and sell it for £2.50, meaning they keep 50% of the sale price. But street sales ended on 20 March, in line with Covid-19 social distancing measures.

The Co-op Group stepped in to support the social enterprise by distributing the magazine across its 2,600 outlets. The retailer will also replicate the agreement street sellers have with The Big Issue, whereby they receive 50% of the sale price.

Russell Blackman, managing director of The Big Issue, said: “Our income comes from street sales and without our vendors on the streets we cannot support those that really need us now and in the future.

“We are delighted with the support from the Co-op, which operates at the heart of communities across the UK. The money raised will help to secure the future of the magazine and make a real difference to the lives of our vendors around the country.”

Copies of the magazine can also be ordered online and 50% of net proceeds will go to vendors needing help. The remaining 50% will enable The Big Issue to continue its vital work with vendors now and in the future. Three-month subscriptions are also available to support vendors while they are off the streets.

Matt Hood, commercial director at the Group, said: “Co-op has a key role to play in supporting our members, customers and colleagues, as well as those in our local communities. Inclusivity is at the heart of our culture and this is an example of us all co-operating and pulling together to help those most in need during this unprecedented time – every copy sold will make a difference.”

Since its launch in 1991, the Big Issue has helped well over 100,000 people, who have sold over 200 million copies of the magazine. While other retailers are also selling the magazine in some of their stores, the listing at the Co-op provides Big Issue with its widest in-store distribution.

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