An ethical trade co-op in the Pennine village of Holmfirth has celebrated its fifth birthday, and is now promoting its range to the wider co-operative movement. The Fair Trader store opened on 6 June 2010 and its webshop was operational by the end of that year.
Five years on, as well as local people, it has over 600 members from as far afield as Australia, Canada, Kenya, Thailand, and the USA. They include co-ops, schools, universities and St Vincent banana farmers. Collectively they have invested nearly £120,000. They have not received a penny of interest from this and cannot withdraw their funds.
Fair Trader is run by 35 volunteers, supported by two young employees. The volunteers include accountants, lawyers, retailers, branding experts, HR professionals, teachers, ministers, IT and sustainability consultants. The co-operative generates annual sales of over £130,000 and earnings before depreciation are just positive.
Chairman Gerard Hetherington said: “Since starting up we have spent over £330,000 with small ethical suppliers from around the world. Looking forward, our vision remains unchanged but we must hugely expand our influence if we are to have any meaningful impact on fighting poverty through fair trade.
“We believe that the key lies in engaging the support of the wider co-operative movement to promote the expanding range of gifts that are becoming available to their 15 million UK members through our online shop.
“We also hope that co-operative Fairtrade supporters throughout the UK will help us grow sales, join as members and work with their local suppliers to develop a powerful buying group and more fairly traded products.
“To this end, we are developing an exclusive fair trader branded range of products and are trying to persuade the executives of the larger co-operatives to get involved in fairly traded giftware and online selling. This will require the continued energetic support of our volunteers, patience of our investors, and the hard work and talents of our producers.”