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The Analysis of Central England Cooperative

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Central England Cooperative is an innovative consumer cooperative enterprise based in the UK. Consumer cooperatives are enterprises that operate independently of the state, are a form of mutual aid and aimed towards providing consumer services rather than profit. Founded in 2013, the Central England Cooperative has experienced tremendous growth since and ended 2017 with nearly two million members and nearly ten thousand employees. The Central England Cooperative has a diverse range of businesses in its portfolio. Known most commonly for food stores, the Central England Cooperative ranges from funeral directories, to travel branches and florists. The CEC is the second largest independent retailer cooperative in the UK after The Co-Operative Group founded in 1844. It recently reported a sales increase of six percent in their most recent financial report. Voluntary and Open Membership Cooperatives are open to all people who are willing and able to deal with the terms and conditions of membership. When analyzing using this principle, it is keen to note that the requirements of membership can somehow be used to have some individuals unable to gain membership.

Nonetheless, the Central England Cooperative is one cooperative that requires persons to usher an amount of £1 to gain membership. As expressed on their website, the cooperative is quite transparent in its membership requirements. It has an open membership policy whereby potential members are given the different ways in which they can become part of the organization. The first method is having a join in a card that is purchased from selected stores in the UK where an individual can directly start earning points. The card can then be used for the member to become a fully-fledged member by registering their cards with the organization’s headquarters. The second way is using their helpline for membership, and finally, they have a webpage purposed for member’s enrolment. With these channels of membership that are accessible to all and easy, it is clear that the organization in general highly emphasizes a voluntary and open membership.

Democratic Member Control The very core of democratic operations in any cooperative is the presence of board elections. Individuals running for the different positions in the board offer varying ideologies meaning that the polls are expected to show what the majority thinks is right. As a cooperative, the CEC holds elections every three years and offers the chance for all members who have held at least £1 for the prior six months before the election a chance to vote for their desired leaders. The meetings that are held twice a year at different venues to offer the members ample opportunities to attend. In these meetings, the members are given platforms to express their policy requirements to the board which is the executive body that analyses them. Member’s Economic Participation The economic contribution of members is quite crucial for the running of a cooperative because the more they get involved in the financial affairs of the organization, the more it grows. The CEC uses the dividend policy to ensure that members with the highest amount of input in terms of points take a more prominent share. The member relations section of the dividend pay-out takes into account the involvement of the members in the different product offerings the organization has. When a member purchases from one of the organization’s outlets, they gain points because they use their membership cards which come in handy during the calculation of dividends because one point is equated to 1 pence.

Autonomy and Independence

The meetings undertaken by the cooperative are formal in nature and seek to create frameworks that are to be used to enact legislation of the group as well as enter into new trade deals. The annual reports offer members the chance to see their proposals actualized by the board of directors. The CEC uses the publications to provide the member’s knowledge of how it has distributed the finances. These publications are done yearly and are given consent by the elected members of the board. The meetings are openly attended, and eligible members are given platforms to air out their views, which are voted on by the members.

Education, training, and information

Education and training are regarded as lifelong requirements for individuals because they help ensure knowledge and performance for employees. The CEC understands this critical element by providing a unique appraisal of the Board and Individual Directors. In its statement of 2014, the cooperative was specific in mentioning that it does not appraise the board nor the individual directors because it does so by offering training to them (Central England Co-operative, 2014). The directors are required to regularly attend seminars for training that are mandatory for them in their leadership positions. The cooperative also has member groups that are open to all members that have classes ranging from dancing, keeping fit, sugarcraft, etc. that are designed for enhancing skills to these individuals. Cooperation among Cooperatives The cooperative has channels in which it can cooperate with other like-minded organizations through its member’s activities. In specific, the organization allows its members to earn points when they trade with other cooperatives such as the Co-operative Group and the Midcounties Co-operative. When members engage in products from these other unions, they can earn points that are transferable to the Central England Cooperative.

Members of other co-operatives can also earn points when they engage in doing business with the different outlets of the cooperative. By so doing, the relationship between the two organizations is heightened when members can engage in interdependently. Concern for Community. The co-operative has a corporate social responsibility initiative that has channels in which the organization gives back to the community. The partnership with the Newlife Foundation is one such initiative that has seen the organization raise over £500,000 since 2012. The co-operative in 2017 decided to add into their mental welfare campaign by pledging 50 mental health champions to help with the initiative (Cooperative Press, 2017). It also has a partnership with the Salvation Army to the site for their clothing banks at their 72 retail stores. CEC has also set its foot on the health and wellbeing sector by having a connection with the National Obesity Awareness Initiative.

The organization was awarded 4.5 stars in the 2017 CR Index that is promoted by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales’ Responsible Business Network. Also, the co-operative has issued employment for students and ultimately commended for the 2015 Business in the Community Inspiring Young Talent Award (Business in the Community, 2015). The basis I am nominating this cooperative is because it has incorporated all the principles of such an organization to create value for its members as well as the community. It has received recognition and awards in the past making it a beacon in the cooperative sector of the country in general. In all sectors of quality of products, cooperate governance, planning, and inclusion, and transparency, the cooperative has shown tremendous effort.

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