Forty years ago a handful of bike nuts got together to start a worker co-operative in Scotland’s capital.
They didn’t have any grand plans at the time, but knew that they loved cycling, that they wanted to help others get out on bikes, and that they wanted to work on their own terms.
Today, Edinburgh Bicycle Co-operative employs over 100 people in Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Newcastle and Leeds, from bicycle mechanics to marketers, from warehouse staff to web developers. All staff are invited after one year to become fully-fledged co-operative members, giving them an equal share in the business, a vote at the AGM, and an equal share of any profits.
Since the mountain-biking boom era of the late 90s and early 2000s, when bicycles flew off the shelves, the climate has been more challenging. But the Bike Co-op continues to fight for its corner of the market, focusing more recently on streamlining the business and protecting the jobs of its members.
“By far my favourite thing about working for the Bike Co-op is you know that everyone’s in it together,” says co-op worker owner Simon Atkins. “Nothing illustrated this better for me than when I first started, and I saw the Managing Director’s car – old and modest. We’re not interested in ripping off customers or in cut-throat profiteering at the expense of people’s jobs, and you can see that at every level of the business.
"The Bike Co-op is one of those places that feels like it has real integrity.”
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