What is a co-operative

Whether it’s a football club like Barca or a large retailer, your local co-op pub or group of dairy farmers, co-operatives are successful businesses. There are more than 7,000 independent co-operatives across the UK, working in all parts of the economy. Together they contribute £38.2 billion to the British economy.

Often they look like any other business. What makes co-operatives unique is that they are run not by institutional investors or distant shareholders, but by their members. People like you and me – customers, employees, residents, farmers, artists, taxi drivers...

They range from multi-billion pound businesses to small community enterprises. They work in everything from healthcare to housing, renewables to retail, sports to social care. And they operate across the country.

read a selection of great case studies

As businesses owned and run by their members, co-operatives offer a solution to the growing sense of powerlessness people feel over business and the economy, giving them control of the businesses they are closest to - whether they shop at them, work at them or supply them. People of all kinds benefit through membership of their co-operative. Farmers are strengthening their position in competitive and global markets. Employees are having a say in how their organisations are run. Customers are influencing the businesses they use. Local residents are saving vital services.

“I'm one of 3,500 members of FC United of Manchester. We own an equal share of the football club that we support, as well as being members of a co-operative. For that, I’m a happy man!" Phil Frampton, FC United of Manchester

More on the benefits of being a co-operative owner here.