Press release

The 2016 Co-operative of the Year award winners announced

The winners of the three Co-operative of the Year awards 2016

Central England Co-operative, The Phone Co-op and Riverside Co-operative Housing have today (17 June) been announced as the winners of the prestigious 2016 Co-operative of the Year awards.

People running and supporting co-operatives right across the UK have nominated co-operatives to three categories and, after shortlisting, voted for their favourite co-operative in each category. With 10,000 votes over the last four weeks, the awards have seen co-operatives large and small reaching out to staff, members and customers for their support.

The winners of the 2016 Co-operative of the Year awards are:

Leading Co-operative of the Year 2016: Central England Co-operative

A customer owned retailer with 430 outlets, 8,700 colleagues, 260,000 members and gross sales of nearly £1 billion, Central England Co-operative beat off other large retailers Scotmid and The Southern Co-operative for the title.

Growing Co-operative of the Year 2016: The Phone Co-op

A growth in turnover of 19% to £10 million over the last five years, and a membership of 11,000, along with its strong ethical commitment, saw The Phone Co-op take the lead from Salford Community Leisure and the Webarchitects.

Inspiring Co-operative of the Year 2016: Riverside Co-operative Housing

This new co-operative provides 150 affordable homes and gives the tenants ownership and control over them, enabling Riverside Housing Co-operative to win the vote in a close competition with four other co-ops - Bala Sport, Media Co-op, Paper Rhino and the Fox & Hounds.

Nick Matthews, Chair of Co-operatives UK, which organises the awards, said: "The annual Co-operative of the Year awards are a unique way to celebrate co-operative excellence and, for the shortlisted organisations, a superb opportunity to engage with staff and members on what it means to be a co-operative.

"The shortlisted organisations demonstrate the sheer breadth of the co-operative sector and the winners in each category are superb examples of co-operative excellence - a high performing customer owned retailer, a commercial and ethical telecoms provider, and tenant owned affordable housing. Congratulations to our three co-operatives of the year!”

“The CCIN is delighted to sponsor this year’s Co-operative of the Year Awards which showcase the diversity and success of the UK co-operative sector. We represent 22 co-operative councils from across the UK, who are driving global municipal co-operative policy development.  These awards highlight what can be achieved when people work together to build a better world and it is a privilege to begin our association with Co-operatives UK in such an exciting way.

Congratulations to the worthy winners Central England Co-op, The Phone Co-op and Riverside Housing Co-op and to the other nominees who are driving the UK’s co-operative economy.”  Councillor Chris Penberthy, Chair of the Values and Principles Board of the Co-operative Councils’ Innovation Network

Martyn Cheatle, Chief Executive of Central England Co-operative, said: "As an inclusive and progressive society our vision is to be the UK’s best co-operative by making a real difference to our members and communities. I believe winning this award shows that we are on the right track and that our members and customers feel we have their best interests at heart.

"This award will be celebrated throughout the year and used to highlight the positive impact we continue to make on the communities in which we trade and the wider UK economy. I’d like to say a heart-felt thank you to everyone who voted, you have provided Central England Co-operative with the inspiration to strive for even higher levels of community engagement, business success and co-operative working."

Maria Lee and Martyn Cheatle accepting the Leading Co-operative of the Year award

Vivian Woodell, Chief Executive ofThe Phone Co-op, added:

“We’re delighted that The Phone Co-op has been recognised by co-operators across the UK in this prestigious national award. It’s a tribute to everyone involved, including the Board and all my colleagues who work so hard every day to make sure we’re providing the best possible service, while making a real co-operative difference as well.

"It’s also a tribute to our members, without whose support The Phone Co-op couldn’t have achieved what it has. It means a huge amount to all of us that we’ve won because of the support of people across the UK. You’ve given us the encouragement to keep pushing ahead and to take The Phone Co-op and co-operation to the next level. Thank you!” 

Lastly, Charlotte Walsh, member of the Riverside Housing Cooperative, said:

“As a member, we are delighted to have won Inspiring Co-operative of the Year. We are very proud and passionate about what we have created at Riverside Co-operative and live in a community that we firmly believe has empowered residents to be in control. Working together, nurturing that cooperative spirit, will enable us to continuously improve our community for the long-term.”

“The Accord Group and Redditch Co-operative Homes are pioneers in developing innovative environmental housing solution which they design and build offsite, creating flourishing communities of which I am very proud to be a part.”

The awards were announced at the UK co-operative sector’s annual conference, Co-operative Congress, which takes place from 17 to 18 June.