The Midcounties Co-operative has been announced as the winner of the 2015 Co-operative of the Year award.
Over 27,000 people voted online for the nine co-operative businesses shortlisted for the award, which was organised by Co-operatives UK and sponsored by the financial mutual Desjardins. The award was presented at the co-operative sector’s annual conference, Co-operative Congress, in Birmingham on Friday, 26 June.
Ed Mayo, secretary general of Co-operatives UK, the network for Britain’s co-operative businesses, said: “The co-operative sector is thriving, with co-ops ranging from high street heavyweights to football clubs and micro-finance enterprises. The 2015 awards shortlist included all of these and more, showcasing the diverse co-operative sector.
“Midcounties Co-operative is an outstanding co-operative business. Being named Co-operative of Year 2015 is testimony both to its success and to its ability to engage colleagues, members and customers.”
Midcounties is the largest independent customer-owned co-operative in the UK. Owned by over 500,000 members, it turns over £1.2bn a year. The family of businesses includes retail, travel and funeralcare, as well as childcare and energy. Its Co-operative Energy business has grown from a new venture in 2010 to a national energy provider with 250,000 customers.
Ben Reid, chief executive of Midcounties, said: “As a member-owned society, this award win is particularly important to us because it was voted for by our members. The fact that they took the time to go online and support us shows that they are really excited and engaged with the work we’re doing in their local community.
“It has been a great year for The Midcounties Co-operative as we approach our 10 year anniversary in September. In addition to being crowned “Co-operative of the Year”, we have recently received the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Sustainable Development and have been awarded a coveted 4.5 star rating in Business in the Community’s CR Index, as well as being named a finalist in the Sustainable Products and Services category of the 2015 Responsible Business Awards.
“These awards have been the result of a great deal of hard work throughout the past decade by members, colleagues and customers throughout the Society. We are proud of all those who have come together to help us achieve these results and make a lasting difference in the areas where we do business.”
After an initial 65 nominations, nine co-operatives were shortlisted for the final vote in the awards: FC United, a fan owned football club; Channel Islands Co-operative and East of England, both large and successful customer-owned retailers; The Phone Co-op, a customer-owned telecoms provider; Unicorn Grocery, a worker-owned retailer; The Foster Care Co-operative, a co-operatively run fostering agency; Jamboree, a worker-owned café in Malvern; and Oiko Credit, a microfinance provider.
New figures from Co-operatives UK on the co-operative sector show that there are nearly 7,000 co-operative businesses in the UK contributing £37 billion to the British economy and owned by 15 million people.