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Co‑op Fortnight involves co‑ops and organisations from across the UK working together to celebrate and promote co‑ops

Scotmid Co-operative: making a difference to the communities it serves

Case study

17th June 2021
What is a co-op?
Scotmid is Scotland’s largest independent co-op
Scotmid is Scotland’s largest independent co-op

Scotland’s largest independent co-op, retailer Scotmid Co-operative, has been in business for over 160 years. With stores spread across Scotland, it gives its members a say in how the co-op supports those communities.  

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I was born with co-op in my blood. As a child, the co-op dividend was important. We depended on it. My parents went to member meetings. And that has stuck with me.

– Harry Cairney, President of Scotmid

Harry Cairney is a lifelong co-operator and President of Scotmid since 2014. His first job on leaving school was with the co-op. “From the bag to the boardroom is absolutely my story. I never imagined that I’d never become a President when I first joined.”

Proud of his achievements, Harry is also proud to be part of an organisation that operates fairly and democratically – and makes a difference to the communities it serves. “To me, being a member is everything. There are more important things than the bottom line. Benefitting the community is our core purpose.”

Scotmid’s member-owners have a say in how the business is run – and how it distributes its funds and supports good causes

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That’s the benefit of being a member. You can see how your community benefits, that’s a big thing, We help organisations to do amazing work that people would otherwise struggle without. The fact that we, as a co-op, can give that support is a great feeling.
– Harry Cairney
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Watch a short video clip of Harry and Scotmid

Scotmid has diversified over recent decades – into property, funeral care and health and beauty retail with the acquisition of the Semichem chain.

“The high street is suffering,” says Harry. “A balanced portfolio means we won’t be caught off guard – and members made the decision to diversify.” 

Scotmid selects a Charity of the Year to support – and over the last six years, these chosen charities have received £2 million. Another impressive feat the co-op has achieved is gaining an entry in the Guinness World Records book for holding the World’s Biggest Burns Supper in January 2020.

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I’m absolutely passionate about the co-operative movement and the benefits of being a co-operator. I see it in every community when I visit. Wherever I go I wear a co-op badge and people ask me about it. The more co-ops, the better! More co-ops would mean a fairer society, more equality and a better world.
– Harry Cairney