* Unicorn - Manchester's co-operative grocery   *
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What is a co-operative?

Unicorn Grocery is a worker's cooperative, which means we are owned and run by our workforce.

As cooperative members, we are all company directors. We take responsibility equally for the decisions that govern our business, from long-term strategy, to budgets and recruitment, to procedures that run the Unicorn film made to mark the first ever Co-ops Fortnightshop from day to day. Strong lines of communication and regular meetings connect each of us to all the diverse areas of the business.

Our Co-op is non-hierarchical, which means that there is no top-down management system. All members are expected to self-manage, as well as simultaneously managing each other, which relies on a great deal of initiative, hard work, and trust!

From 3 members to 70, we have always (wherever possible) made decisions through consensus. As you may imagine, this requires enormous patience and respect! Consensus may not always seem like the easiest or quickest method, but the advantages are well worth it. We learn from one another all the time, and are able to make strong, well-founded decisions upheld by a unified and active membership. This kind of decision making is one of the things that Co-operative staffgive every member a real sense of 'ownership' of the business; unlike in most jobs we are certainly not divorced from the decisions we make!

A diverse range of skills is vital in any cooperative. We know that the insight and energy of a new recruit is as valuable as the experience gained from long service. By offering a flat rate of pay, we encourage an equal sense of ownership and worth in all members.

We hope our example will inspire others to pursue a cooperative way of working. We are always happy to give advice, answer questions, or arrange visits for people to learn more about how we work. For more information, contact office@unicorn-grocery.coop.

.coop toolkitYou might have noticed our website address now ends in .coop. This is the only domain in the world that is reserved for co-ops & organizations guided by cooperative values and principles, as set out by the International Co-operative Alliance. For more information click here.

Further Reading

Unicorn Grocery is registered under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 and is bound by the Worker Co-operative Rules laid out by Co-operatives UK. Co-ops are part of an international movement for commerce to give back to the community by upholding a social agenda. See www.uk.coop or ica.coop for more information.

Rochdale Pioneers

The Rochdale co-operative is probably the most well-known of all the early co-operatives. While it was not the first cooperative business, it was the first to be successful over a long period
of time and with principles including honesty and community involvement it inspired the development of the co-operative movement.

Other Co-ops

During Co-ops Fortnight 2012 we visited some other co-ops, find out more here or check out the UK Co-operative Directory for a full list of co-operatives working in the UK.

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