* Unicorn - Manchester's co-operative grocery   *
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Grow a Grocery

UnicornThere’s no doubt that the food system needs improving. Unicorn has succeeded in carving out a genuine alternative to the supermarket for its local community, but shopping options remain sadly limited for much of the UK. We think there’s room for a Unicorn-type store in every city, and perhaps more besides. We have no plans to expand outside the one shop, so we’ve put together a guide intended to help facilitate the emergence of new stores run on similar lines all over the UK.

Starting a new business is a daunting process, and starting a new food business in this era of supermarket dominance is perhaps even more so. We have put together a guide based on the model Unicorn has tried & tested since 1996, designed to assist in the establishment of new wholefood co-operatives. The ‘Grow a Grocery’ guide walks potential grocers through all areas of the business, in the hope that it will make starting a new shop an easier process and help existing shops improve and/or expand. Those using it may choose to follow the model wholesale or just to utilise elements of it, and of course to improve it all the while. Unicorn is by no means the only successful model out there, and like any solution is still far from being perfect, but it is something that can be utilised, built upon, and of course improved by others. In a better food system, there would be more places a bit like Unicorn.


The guide is free, and available to download as a pdf here. It is divided into ten sections or chapters,

Designed to be used alongside the guide, a range of additional resources (listed on the right) include examples of early business plans, supplier lists, sample rotas & business forecasting tools. Some of these resources are available only on request - please use this contact form explaining who you are. We tend to reserve these resources for people who are planning to operate as worker or community-owned co-operatives/social enterprises rather than for private profit. They are also most useful with a bit of context, so we also like to have a chat on the phone before providing them.

Please let us know if you're keen to start a shop run on similar lines to ours, once you've had a look at the toolkit we may be able to arrange for you to visit us. Email us

And finally, here are a couple of other good sources of information on setting up and running co-operatives (there are many more such links within the guide)

Unicorn Grocery

In partnership with Sustain as part of the Food Co-ops Programme

  Funded by Making Local Food Work


Food Co-ops Programme

Making Local Food Work

Grow a Grocery GuideDownload the Grow a Grocery Guide

Additional Resources

* = On application only

Teams List
bullet Prehistory
Prospectus 1996
bullet Early Pricelist
bullet Top Sellers *
bullet Statistics
bullet Supplier List *
bullet Wholesalers
bullet Packaging
bullet Floorplans
Practical Resources
bullet Finance Induction Pack
bullet Useful contacts
bullet Loanstock samples *
bullet Business Plan 1996 *
bullet Business Plan 2002 *
bullet Forecasting tool
bullet Finance Tasks
bullet Accounts *
bullet Risk Management
bullet Card machine charges
bullet Regs & Finance policies *
Procedures and Pricing
bullet Task checklist
bullet Margins *
bullet Veg Trading
bullet Veg Europe
bullet Veg Storage and Presentation
bullet Veg Aftercare
bullet Packing Guide
bullet Packing list sample
bullet Customer survey *
Policies and Principle
bullet White Rules
bullet Consensus guide
bullet Governance Tools
bullet Meetings guide
bullet Devolved structure
bullet Expansion Pros & Cons
bullet Communication systems
bullet Staff newsletter
bullet Diary
bullet Agenda & Minutes template
bullet Structure Policies *
bullet Induction Pack
bullet Job Description Member & Casual *

Member/Prob Terms & Conditions *

bullet Reviews and membership system
bullet Recruitment guide
bullet Induction programme
bullet Further Training
bullet Personnel policies *
bullet Benefits policies *

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