Unicorn is a wholefood grocery and worker co-operative in Manchester with a strong focus on organic, regional and fairly traded produce.
The co-operative buys preferentially from other co-operatives where it can and has a lot of co-operative suppliers, from the big wholesalers like Suma and Essential to small enterprises like the Handmade Bakery, Moss Brook Growers and Glebelands City Growers.
Unicorn also offers advice and support to start-up co-ops. In 2011 it published the ‘Grow a Grocery’ guide, which sets out its business model and is freely available for anyone to use. Those who want more detailed information can visit Unicorn and work with the co-operative in person.
Unicorn’s members also share their knowledge and experiences with existing co-operatives. They participate in the national co-operative movement, with members sitting on the boards of the Co-operatives UK Worker Co-op Council, regional body Co-operatives North West and specialist finance provider Co-operative and Community Finance.
In addition, last year the co-operative gave away about 13% of its pre-tax profits to local and international projects. It allocates funds as a percentage of its wage bill rather than its profits. Debbie Clarke of Unicorn says: “It seems a clearer and more transparent way of measuring what we give. It also better reflects our growth as a business and means if and when the staff get better off, so do the projects we support.”
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