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Co-operative Union becomes... Co-operativesUK

The 133-year old apex body that represents the £17 billion co-operative sector of the economy is to change its name to Co-operativesUK in a move designed to gain greater recognition of co-operative businesses.

In a referendum ballot, which closed at the end of December 2002, members of the Co-operative Union voted by an overwhelming 93% in favour of the new name.

"Co-operativesUK is more than a new name," says Pauline Green, Chief Executive. "It is our way of showing that the Co-operative Movement now has a single strategic voice in the UK. We want people to know that co-operatives, in all their various forms, are uniquely positioned to deliver goods and services in a commercially and socially sustainable way."

According to Pauline Green, the co-operative sector has not always been seen as the great innovator and provider of important services that it is. "Co-operativesUK brings together thousands of individual co-operative businesses, which in total we estimate to account for £17 billion of UK trade - this is often overlooked.

"I believe the co-operative model is one that our business leaders and policy makers need to understand better as it is a ready solution to many of the UK's economic and social problems." In particular Pauline cites developments in areas such as childcare and care for the elderly, football trusts, energy, and leisure where, increasingly, the co-operative sector is able to deliver a user-responsive service whilst maintaining commercial viability.

According to Pauline Green, "co-operatives provide tried and tested business solutions with a 'co-operative advantage', offering direct democratic input from stakeholder groups. Co-operative businesses are managed by the people who benefit directly from their services. This 'bottom up' philosophy means that they can often meet the needs of their customers more effectively than other business models."

Says Pauline, "We know that many decision-makers do not fully understand what our role is and as a result we were missing out on opportunities to make the voice of co-operation heard. We believe that Co-operativesUK is a name which makes it clear to everyone what we are all about."


[originally issued January 2003]

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