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Just 1.5 percent of UK co-operative businesses were dissolved in 2020 compared to 6.5 percent of businesses generally, according to the ‘Co-op Economy 2021’, a new report compiled by trade body Co-operatives UK. The report indicates that co-ops may be fundamentally more resilient than other forms of business.

Co-operatives UK CEO, Rose Marley, said: “We know co-operatives are resilient and sustainable businesses – but it’s not just their resilience that is critical to reducing the inequalities in the UK. It's fundamentally about ownership. People are looking for a stake in the places they live, work and consume and the co-op model distributes this decision-making power.

“Why are co-ops so resilient? The co-operative purpose, ownership and governance all dictate long-termism. In an economic shock it’s the members calling the shots in their collective, long-term interests, not investors making decisions based on short-term returns. Co-ops patiently build-up and reinvest reserves and use members’ capital wherever possible, rather than piling on debt to achieve faster growth,” Marley adds.

There are 7,237 independent co-ops operating across the UK. Total turnover increased to £39.7 billion in 2021, a 2.8 per cent increase.

Ten largest co-ops in the UK by turnover

  • Co-operative Group Limited
  • John Lewis Partnership PLC
  • Arla Foods Limited
  • National Merchant Buying Society Limited
  • Central England Co-operative Limited
  • The Midcounties Co-operative Limited
  • Openfield Group Limited
  • Dale Farm Co-operative Limited
  • Mole Valley Farmers Limited
  • The Southern Co-operative Limited

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