CHANCELLOR Gordon Brown paid tribute to the principles and ethos of the Co-operative Movement when he officially opened United Co-operatives' new state of the art headquarters in Rochdale last week.
Mr Brown ? a long-standing Co-op Party member and a patron of the co-operative and mutual think tank, Mutuo ? said he was delighted to be in the community where the Movement was first established just over 160 years ago.
After unveiling a commemorative plaque in the foyer of the £ 4 million facility in Sandbrook Park, Mr Brown said that 800 million people in over 100 countries worlwide are associated with the Movement.
"Rochdale is right at the centre of the great traditions of the Co-op Movement and today's ceremony marks the opening of a new chapter," he said.
Congratulating United on the size and scale of a business operation which has achieved a near £ 2 billion turnover and provides shops and services across a wide area of the country from the Potteries to Cumbria, the Chancellor said the society and its 15,000 staff were upholding the principles of co-operation by their work and also by their fund-raising and charitable activities.
During the opening ceremony, United Chief Executive Peter Marks announced an immediate £ 100,000 donation to the Tsunami Disaster Appeal.
This is equivalent to a day's profits for the society and Mr Brown said the gesture showed how UK businesses should be reacting to the crisis in south east Asia.
Said Mr Brown: "This is another example of the principles that underly this great Movement and this vibrant and expanding co-op. It emphasises and upholds the principles that started here in 1844."
Mr Marks told the News: "I hope that many other businesses will consider a gesture like ours. If every company in the FTSE 100 donated a day's profit, hundereds of millions of pounds would be raised at a stroke."