The Co-operative

The Co-operative brand is easily recognisable across the UK, with its nationwide chain of local convenience stores that have a familiar blue décor. From humble beginnings in the 19th century, the Co-op has grown into a global business revolution, with one billion members of 1.4 million co-operative societies.


History of the Co-operative

On 21st December 1844, a group called the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers’ Society opened a grocery shop that pledged to sell good food, in honest weights and measures, at fair prices. The shop had an innovative new way of trading – it was to be owned by its members, who worked together for the common good, with high principles valued more than financial profits.

In 1863, the independent co-operative societies formed a new organisation. The Co-operative Wholesale Society provided goods to sell at hundreds of Co-op stores. From 1873, it manufactured diverse wares such as shoes and biscuits and it began milling its own flour for baking in 1891.

During World War I, it was the first store to introduce rationing, ensuring that everyone got an equal share in scarce foods. In addition, the Co-op’s dividend helped the household budget for thousands of families, with customers saving stamps in booklets to spend later.

Since its formation, CWS has expanded and changed to become the Co-operative Group that we know today. It boasts many firsts, such as:

  • Using degradable plastic bags
  • Banning certain pesticides from its fresh produce
  • Outlawing animal testing from household products
  • Banning potentially hazardous chemicals
  • Using the Fair Trade brand including bananas, tea, coffee, sugar and chocolate

Different Co-op services

The Co-op’s food stores are only part of the story. In addition, many other services are now on offer including banking, insurance, legal services, funeral care and electrical products.

How is the Co-op different from other supermarket chains?

Co-op stores, unlike in other supermarket chains, are not run by a major investor. Owned by individual members and other co-ops, with all members getting the chance to influence the running of the store, making profits means the members receive money and other offers. Co-operative supports its local community. It is responsible to members and not shareholders. Members can vote at the AGM or stand for election on to the Member Council.

Customers have a say over their shops, employees have more control in the workplace, farmers benefit from a good deal and co-operatives enable people to run community facilities, such as sports clubs and leisure centres. Co-operatives contribute £34 billion to the UK’s economy.

Co-op’s values

Despite having come a long way since its launch in 1844, the Co-op still retains the same original values of selling good food and other products, in honest weights and measures, at fair prices to customers. The International Co-operative Alliance oversees these values.

In addition, it supports self-help – with members joining together to make a difference in the community – and self-responsibility, encouraging every member to make the co-op more successful by using its products and services and supporting its activities.

The Co-op is run as a democracy – one member, one vote – and is committed to equality and fairness. It promotes solidarity among members.


The Co-op works with the British Red Cross to support its Loneliness Campaign and its members and colleagues have raised a massive £6 million for the cause. As a result, new Red Cross services have been launched at 39 additional UK locations, enabling 12,500 people so far to reconnect with their local community, helping them to build confidence, find solutions to practical or psychological barriers and find relevant groups in their local community.

Automatic Access and the Co-op

Automatic Access has been working with the Co-op to convert two existing buildings into Co-op local shops. One new store was opened in the former New White Bull pub on Nottingham Road, Giltbrook, Nottingham. The pub closed in January 2015 and it was then turned into a convenience store for the local community.

A second new Co-op store has been opened at the former Working Men’s Club in  Horsley Woodhouse, Derbyshire, following renovations to the building.

The refurbishments completed by Automatic Access included the installation of large bi-parting automatic doors, side screens and two shop fronts on the same elevation, with security shutters over the shop fronts to protect them when they are closed.

To find out more about Automatic Access’s services in the supply, design and installation of top-quality automatic doors and entrance systems, please do not hesitate to contact our team for advice.