Pierre Liret: French worker co-ops growing in strength

The French government is getting behind its co-operative movement, Pierre Liret told Co-operative Congress.

The French government is getting behind its co-operative movement, Pierre Liret told Co-operative Congress.

“We’ve had a real deep dynamic for co-ops since 2000,” said Mr Liret, who is Director of Professional Development at the Confederation General Scop, the French workers co-op network. “We’ve had a new government for the last year and for the first time we have a social economy minister in the government. They’ve prepared a law to empower social economy organisations including co-ops.”

The draft bill, which will be submitted next November, updates the co-operative model and proposes special measures for worker co-ops, mainly to stimulate and develop healthy transfer to employees. It proposes giving employees the right to be informed when a company owner is about to retire, giving workers three months to offer to buy the company.

Mr Liret said worker co-ops, known as scops, were growing in number and strength in France. In 2012, 250 new co-ops emerged, 10 per cent of which were transmissions of healthy businesses.

Of the 2,165 co-ops in existence last year, 161 were multi-stakeholder co-ops, businesses designed with the local community in mind, often in partnership with local authorities.

Mr Liret added: “Their survival rate after three years is 82.5 per cent, compared to the 66 per cent national average.”

The sector employed 43,860 people last year, a rise of four per cent. Its turnover was up five per cent at €39bn and its net income rose by eight per cent to €130bn.

CG Scop has 13 local representatives throughout the country and three professional federations, in construction, communication and industry. “We work with the French government,” Mr Liret said. “We provide technical support, co-operative law services, financing, continuing education programmes, exchange between entrepreneurs, representation and promotion.”

In 2011 it launched a national advertising campaign. “It’s quite original for a professional network,” said Mr Liret. “We used real co-operatives, not actors. In 2012 we promoted multi-stakeholder co-operatives. In 2013 we focused on succession.”

When it comes to succession, the French worker co-op network is more present than ever, he said.

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