Australian co-ops grow by 18% in five years

In five years, the turnover of the top 100 co-ops in Australia has increased by 18%.

The 2016 National Mutual Economy Report, launched by the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM), shows a combined turnover for the top 100 member-owned businesses of AUS $30.5bn, with combined assets of $143.7bn. Supported by Bank Australia, the report shows that in the last year, revenue grew by 4%.

Banking and financial services dominates the turnover of the top 100 co-ops and mutuals (45%). It is followed by health insurance (17%), agribusiness (15%), retailing (7%), motoring services (6%), purchasing services (4%), wholesaling (3%), fishing (1%), housing (1%) and professional services (1%).

BCCM’s chief executive Melina Morrison said: “This year’s survey of the top 100 CMEs provides evidence of growth and vibrancy across the sector. In terms of financial performance, annual turnover for the sector rose strongly as did profitability.

“More robust mapping has also revealed the depth and breadth of our ownership patterns with a startling 29 million active memberships of Australian CMEs.”

She added: “Overall, we find that Australia’s co-operative and mutual enterprise sector is strong and healthy. While the CME business sector remains poorly understood by the wider community, it is now being given greater recognition by state and federal governments, which can only benefit the sector and the Australian community more widely.”

Ms Morrison said member-owned businesses have demonstrated their economic importance to the Australian economy with 14 CMEs ranked in the IBISWorld list of privately owned companies by revenue. In 2016, three CMEs have been ranked in the IBISWorld Top 10: Co-operative Bulk Handling Ltd (2nd); Devondale Murray Goulburn (7th) and Hospitals Contributions Fund (9th).

“Although being only 7.6% of the IBISWorld Top 500, Australian CMEs are punching well above their weight and are ranking at the top of the pack,” she added.

The report shows that the combined annual turnover of the Top 100 CMEs is not the only financial measure trending up:

  • Combined assets of the Top 100 is also up by 8% (to $143.7bn);
  • Combined median profitability of the same firms is up (15%);
  • Median assets also showed a 9% growth; while
  • Combined liabilities fell by 2%.

• Read the full report on the BCCM website.