Growth in the UK’s cooperative movement is out-pacing that of the wider economy.
While the UK economy grew by just 0.7% last year, the turnover of the co-operative movement grew by 1.5%, with sales topping £35.6bn, according to a new report by Co-operatives UK.
Growth was buoyed by an 8.9% increase in the number of co-op enterprises being set up. The number of co-ops in the UK rose to 5,933 last year, up from 5,450 in 2010, thanks to backers such as prime minister David Cameron.
The number of members also increased, by 6% to 13.5 million.
This means that since the start of the recession in 2008, The Co-op movement has increased its turnover by £5.8bn and welcomed an extra 2.2 million members.
The report also found that co-ops were more resilient than standard businesses. As many as 98% were still in operating three years after first opening, compared with 65% of businesses overall.
“At a time when our economic system is undergoing fundamental change and critical analysis as to its suitability for the future, this is evidence that broadening ownership and control, prioritising social and environmental impact alongside profit is a resilient alternative to austerity,” said Ed Mayo, secretary general for Co-operatives UK.
The report also confirmed that The Co-operative Group remained the biggest co-op in the UK, followed by John Lewis Partnership and Midlands Co-operative Society.