THE 82 worker co-ops in membership of Co-operatives UK now have a combined annual turnover of over £ 91 million, according to statistics released at Congress.
However Co-ops UK say an estimated 276 additional employee-owned co-ops exist, 55 of which have started up since January 2003.
The new figures show worker co-ops who are members of Co-operatives UK have achieved profits of just over £ 2.5 million, which is 2.8 per cent of turnover.
Only five co-ops have a turnover of over £ 5 million and the biggest group – 20 – have turnovers of between £ 100,000 and £ 250,000. Altogether, there are 1,337 members of worker co-operatives affiliated to Co-ops UK and 1,024 employees.
Figures relating to co-operatives who are not members of Co-ops UK are sketchy, but some information has been gathered from accounts submitted to Companies House and returns submitted to the Financial Services Authority.
Eighty-one co-ops evaluated outside Co-operatives UK had a total turnover of £ 10.3 million, which generated profits of over £ 378,000 – 3.7 per cent of turnover.
Co-operatives UK chairman Ben Reid told Congress that the picture relating to worker co-op activity and productivity in the UK was incomplete, but the statistics gathered provided a good starting point for further research.
"Our aspiration is to be recognised as the apex organisation for co-operatives in the UK, so this first statistical review is most welcome and proves it's a sizeable sector by anyone's standards."
Co-ops UK will continue to gather and publish information on the worker co-op sector at Congress each year and at the UK Co-operative Forum conference in December.
Worker co-ops interested in joining Co-operatives UK should contact Sundeep Grewal or Steven Kay on 0161 246 2920 or visit www.uk.coop