suma wholefoods team

Judges were full of admiration for the “truly unique” approach at Suma Wholefoods, a workers’ co-operative set up four decades ago. With “no bosses”, all 200 staff at the wholesaler, which specialises in vegetarian and ethical products, are paid the same wage and all receive “an equal share in Suma’s success”.

The structure leads to “highly motivated workers” and a business that acts as an exemplar for self-managed boards, said judges. Suma also pays 66% higher than market rate wages and says it regularly shares out profits among its workforce.

The Yorkshire business is growing into the largest single pay employer in Europe, while women fill 50% of seats on the board. “The prevailing attitude at Suma is if you can do it, you can do it,” says the company.

With staff turnover of just 2% per year “staff satisfaction is clearly high,” said one judge. “After all, why would you leave?”