Mica DIY is a co-operative of independent DIY retailers which provides marketing, joint buying, store development and training for its members. It offers them a support structure, while maintaining their independence.
The organisation was previously a 60% member-owned business, called Mica UK Ltd. A victim of the recession, Mica UK went into administration in 2009. Board members chose to set the organisation up again, and in March 2010 members voted to change the ownership to a 100% member-owned co-operative.
It now has over 60 members with shops across the UK, from Shetland to Portsmouth, who all have an equal say in the running of the business.
Chief Executive, Steve Ball, said: “When Mica UK went into administration, members quickly decided to set it up again as Mica DIY Ltd. The members felt that it was the right thing to do, as the organisation was already run with co-operative values. It was a good decision that it should be entirely member-run.”
The Co-operative Enterprise Hub helped Mica DIY with the restructuring and relaunch and also supported its application to The Co-operative Loan Fund.
Mica is an important example of how support can be given to retailers without stamping a rigid franchising structure on them. After paying a one-off membership fee, retailers are provided with branding materials and also training from the Development Manager.
“Whilst Mica DIY provides the marketing and training, each store is owned by the trader, not Mica,” Steve explained. "Every store is different; we don’t have a prescribed layout for people. Every store is affected by its size and location - the local shops around it can, for example, influence the stock on offer.
“My advice to other new co-operatives would be: allow time for things to work. It’s easy to become frustrated if things don’t happen overnight, but it is important to know that any implementation of ideas may take longer than planned. It can be worth it though. There has been a lot of positive feedback; members are very happy to be involved. It’s great that people have a say in how everything is run.”
How we helped
- We helped Mica to restructure and relaunch as a co-operative
- We provided advice on the financial projections needed as part of an application to the Co-operative Loan Fund
Dave Hollings, the Hub adviser, said: “Mica DIY is a great example of how a co-operative organisation can help small independent businesses in times of trouble. There can be certain limitations for a small business working on its own. Co-operation is full of possibilities. Mica can buy in bulk, and pass these savings onto its members.”
For more information, please visit www.micahardware.co.uk
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