Welsh Co-operatives Mean Business
Three of the most successful co-operative businesses in Wales are exhibiting at a major international trade fair and expo in Manchester this week. Dairy producers Calon Wen, packing specialists Primepac Solutions and renewables specialists Dulas will be joining the Wales Co-operative Centre and The Co-operative Group at the International Co-operative Alliance’s ‘Co-operatives United’ conference and biennial international trade Expo at the Manchester Central Convention Centre (formerly known as Manchester G-Mex).
The conference and expo, which runs from 29th October to 2nd November, marks the culmination of the United Nations International Year of the Co-operative with a global celebration of co-operative business. The expo is an opportunity for the Welsh co-operative sector to develop trading links with other co-operatives across the world. Wales Co-operative Centre research, commissioned as part of the International Year of Co-operatives, has demonstrated that the co-operative sector in Wales is a key economic driver and this event is an opportunity for the businesses attending to develop trading opportunities across the world.
Calon Wen is a co-operative of 27 family-run farms across Wales who supply organic milk products throughout the UK. The co-operative was developed from a desire to ensure that as much Welsh organic milk is processed in Wales as possible. Since its inception it has developed innovative partnerships with both suppliers and customers and supplies products to most of the main supermarkets in the UK.
Primepac is a worker co-operative created when nineteen staff members invested their redundancy payments in a new employee owned company after the Dutch Company pulled out. They opened a production facility in Ebbw Vale which fills bottles and sachets for clients in a number of sectors. Since they started in 2005 they have grown into a £3 million per year turnover company.
Dulas Ltd was set up by engineers from the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth to provide professional renewable energy services on a commercial basis. Dulas is owned by its employees, has no external investors and is financed largely through sales. Dulas has won numerous awards for its outstanding performance and innovative products. The company has 110 employees with most at its headquarters in Machynlleth, making it one of the largest employers in the area, as well as an office in Scotland. In 2012, Dulas featured in the Wales Fast Growth 50 for the fourth year in a row.
As well as exhibiting, two of the businesses will also participate in a buyer workshop in front of up to 30 businesses interested in Welsh co-operative produce. Steve Meredith, Sales Director of Primepac Solutions is looking forward to the event, “The ICA Expo is an excellent opportunity to meet with businesses from across the world, to swap ideas, make new contacts and hopefully develop new business opportunities”.
Mike Clay, Marketing Manager at Dulas stated, “We are looking forward to exhibiting at ICA Expo and as we are celebrating our 30th Anniversary in the International Year of the C-ooperatives this will be a landmark moment for us. We hope to hear from organisations interested in how renewable energy can secure power supply, reduce energy costs and deliver the environmental benefits that serve to protect our whole planet”.
Calon Wen’s Marketing Director Richard Arnold states, “Calon Wen is keen to develop and grow its distribution beyond the Welsh borders, with interaction with other cooperative groups high on its agenda”, he continues, “Demonstrating our milk, butter cream and award winning cheeses at an event like ICA Expo, is we hope, going to get us in front of like-minded customers and buyers from across the sector and while its further afield than we’ve ventured recently, we think it looks like it has all the ingredients for an excellent event”.
Derek Walker, Chief Executive of the Wales Co-operative Centre is delighted to be able to work with examples of co-operative success in Wales and help showcase them on a world stage, “Dulas, Primepac and Calon Wen are proof that co-operatives mean business. In Wales, the co-operative and mutual sector contributes in the region of £1billion to the economy. These businesses exemplify the ambition and ability of the co-operative sector in Wales and I wish them luck in developing new markets and gaining new business at this event”.
Mike Ash-Edwards, The Co-operative Group Regional Secretary for Wales, said: “Co-operation has its historical roots in Wales and co-operative ways of working still resonate with communities across the country. In addition to the 400 Co-operative stores and branches owned by our 500,000 members in Wales, there are many more examples of co-operation in action which deserve to be celebrated during the United Nations International Year of Co-operatives. We are very much looking forward to working alongside the Wales Co-operative Centre to showcase an ethical business model that puts control in the hands of workers, members and local communities.”
In Wales, co-operatives and mutuals are estimated to generate in the region of £1billion for the Welsh economy per year. Co-operatives employ in the region of 7,000 people in Wales and the co-operative sector in the UK generates an estimated £25billion in revenue which is equivalent to 2% of UK GDP. The co-operative sector in Wales is sustainable, provides high quality jobs, benefits communities and the environment and is committed to generating growth in Wales.
As well as the Expo activities, the ‘Co-ops in Wales’ stand will feature a host of co-operative related activities. These include daily prize draws to win bottles of Welsh Co-operatively produced Cider, postcards of Welsh co-operatives, cheese tasting and information on the work of the exhibiting co-operatives and the co-operative sector in Wales. Further information on the co-operative sector in Wales and the exhibiting co-operatives can be found at www.coopsinwales.coop