9th October 2020

What is a cooperative anyway?

At the Bike Cooperative, we are proud that we democratically govern our business for our joint benefit. We consider this to be a better way to run a business than being answerable to a select few who run a company for their own benefit.

Our timeline:

Our Cooperative was founded in 1977 as Recycles, and started with just 3 full-time workers.

By 1979, we have moved across to Alvanley Terrace (where our Brunstfield branch is still located today), and added cycle-hire to our business.

By 1985 we renamed ourselves as Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative and launched our own brand of bikes.

Fast forward to 2002, we had opened shops in Aberdeen, Newcastle, Leeds.

In 2007 we opened a store in Manchester, which unfortunately closed a few years ago. Who knows, we may be back there one day…

We now have the equivalent of 100 full time staff and are generally regarded as one of the UK’s leading independent bike shops.

So… what is a cooperative?

It’s defined as an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations, through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.

The values of the cooperative:

Social Responsibility
Caring for others

The principles of the cooperative:

Voluntary and open membership
Democratic member control
Member economic participation
Autonomy and independence
Education, training and information
Cooperation among cooperatives
Concern for community

So how do we make this work in practice? Well, our AGM is one way to bring all our employee-members together and vote on business decisions. No matter where you are in the business, Managing Director, Senior Manager, Retail staff, if you work for the Bike Coop your vote carries equal weight.
Employees sit on our Board (and are elected in the same way) as Employee Directors. They ensure that the voice of the employee is heard at the highest levels of the business.
Our profits are shared equally across our employees, so everyone gets the same share of success. It’s only right that the people who worked so hard to make the profit in the first place get a share of the pie.

So there’s a brief overview of how it works. There’s so much more to it, of course, and it isn’t perfect. But, it means we can build a shop together, the kind of shop we want to shop in ourselves!


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