The Co-operative Group, trading as The Co-op, is a British consumer co-operative with a diverse family of retail businesses including food retail; electrical retail; financial services; insurance services; legal services and funeralcare, with in excess of 4,200 locations. It is the largest consumer co-operative in the UK and owned by more than 4 million active members. Membership is open to everyone, provided they agree to subscribe £1 sterling in the capital of the society out of their first share of the profits and share the values & principles upon which the group was founded. Members are democratically involved in setting business strategy, decide how social goals are achieved, and share in its profits - in the 2016 £19m was returned to members and their chosen local community causes via the 5+1 scheme. No year end dividend was paid in 2015.
The Co-operative Group has over 70,000 employees across the UK. The group has headquarters in NOMA, Manchester on a listed eight-building estate which includes its head office One Angel Square, the CIS Tower, Hanover Building, New Century House and Redfern Building. The Group also manages The Co-operative Federal Trading Services,
formerly the Co-operative Retail Trading Group (CRTG), which sources
and promotes goods for food stores of the co-operative movements of the
UK. It introduced The Co-operative brand
in 2007, which is used by many consumers' co-operatives in the UK and
managed by the group. It replaced this for its own businesses with a
revitalised version of its late 1960s "Co-op" logo in 2016.
The business has long established itself as an ethical retailer,
allowing women the same democratic rights within the society as men
since its founding and was the first major UK retailer to champion Fairtrade.
The Co-operative Group has also pioneered a number of other initiatives
which are now commonplace, including easily-interpretable providing
nutritional information on its own brand food, raising animal welfare
standards, install their own renewable energy generation and investing
significantly in community projects (1% of members' own-brand spend goes
to a local cause of their choice). It has held the Fair Tax Mark since 2015.
The Co-operative Group has developed over 173 years from the merger of co-operative wholesale societies
and many independent retail societies; evolving from solely a wholesale
operation to a major retailer. The Group's roots are traced back to the
Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers, established in 1844. The Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers was based on the Rochdale Principles
- which notably introduced the idea of distributing a share of profits
according to purchases through a scheme which became to be known as "the