Back in 1844 a group of workers called the Rochdale Pioneers joined together and established a Society which charged not to capitalise on profit, but to credit each member with their share of the profits in precise proportion to the purchases in store.
Here in the Channel Islands we are extremely proud of our co-operative heritage and the principles behind the Rochdale Society which aim to put their values into practise remain with us today.
These principles are:
1. Voluntary and Open Membership
Cooperatives are voluntary organisations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.
2. Democratic Member Control
Cooperatives are democratic organisations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary cooperatives members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote) and cooperatives at other levels are also organised in a democratic manner.
3. Member Economic Participation
Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the cooperative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing their cooperative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the cooperative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.
4. Autonomy and Independence
Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organisations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organisations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their cooperative autonomy.
5. Education, Training, and Information
Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-operatives. They inform the general public - particularly young people and opinion leaders - about the nature and benefits of co-operation.
6. Cooperation among Cooperatives
Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.
7. Concern for Community
Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.
How we are different
What makes us unique from other commercial organisations in the islands is that we are owned and run not by investors or distant shareholders, but by our members. Our Co-operative Principles are at the core of everything we do.
We are essentially a Not-for-Profit organisation. Our driving force is to serve, not to make money.
All profits are either returned to our members in the form of dividend, or are re-invested back into the Society.
Being an organisation effectively owned equally by the whole population of the Channel Islands means we are also a democracy. We have an elected board, which directs the Society on your behalf.
Other Co-operative values that are central to our business include animal welfare, environmental responsibility, ethical trading, buying local and choosing Fairtrade when we buy from producers in the developing world.
We also want to be at the heart of the communities of both Guernsey and Jersey. That is reflected in our huge commitment to local Charities.
We are understandably proud of just how successfully education, ecology, creativity and retail can serve our Community and all of this is possible due to the support of our members.