Co-op history

Destined to be different since 1844.

The Co-op Group has its origins in the co-operative consumer societies started by the Rochdale Pioneers.

In 1863, independent co-op societies formed The Co-operative Wholesale Society (CWS). They provided Co-op products to sell in hundreds of Co-op stores.

Over the next century, CWS went through many changes and eventually became The Co-operative Group.

This short video (2 minutes 53 seconds) tells the history of our Co-op.

Show transcript

'Back to our Co-op Roots' video transcript
[0:00] In 1844 the Rochdale pioneers created an idea that changed the world. The Co-operative.

[0:09] They believed in a different way of doing business. A business that would be owned by its members and work for the common good.

[0:16] They believed that when people worked together they were stronger. That principles are more valuable than profits.

[0:24] In World War One The Co-op were the first to introduce rationing to make sure everyone got their fair share.

[0:33] The co-operative society have baked biscuits and made shoes ever since 1873, milling flour since 1891, producing co-operatively to consume co-operatively.

[0:45] It was the start of a national movement that people joined with pride. A movement that never stopped trying to change the way things were done. A movement that was destined always to be different.

[0:57] The customers own the Co-op, therefore it is the customers who get the benefits of co-operative trade.

[1:02] The dividend became a part of the nation's language and the household budget.

[1:07] I just shop regularly at the co-op and get my dividend. Do you mean that that paid for your new coat?

[1:13] It pays to shop at the co-op remember the dividend.

[1:23] Yes, the co-op is not only a way of buying and selling, it's a way of life.

[1:27] Shortcut shopping news. It's the first store in Britain to cut the housewives shopping hours in half with a self-service food department.

[1:33] The co-operative movement is worldwide. It's taken many different forms from country to country.

[1:39] It's spread out across the whole United States. This co-ops grocery idea, this peoples business.

[1:45] And The Co-op continued to challenge, to change, to take a stand on what mattered most to our members and the communities we serve.

[1:54] We were the first to introduce degradable plastic bags. We were the first to ban more than 20 common pesticides from our fresh produce. The first to ban the sale of alcopops. The first to outlaw animal testing from the making of our household products and stop the use of potentially hazardous chemicals.

[2:18] And we led the way in Fair Trade. We were the first to sell Fair Trade bananas. The first to have our own Fair Trade brand. Our chocolate, our tea, our coffee and our sugar is all Fair Trade.

[2:34] We are proud to be doing things differently, proud to be an organisation that works for its members and proud that we are inspired by the principles of those Rochdale pioneers.