The Time for Worker Co-ops?

On 30 September 2020 Damon Horrill was the guest speaker at an event organised by Co-operatives UK, Preston City Council, Preston Cooperative Development Network and the University of Central Lancashire's Centre for SME Development. The event aimed "to start a conversation with people and businesses in Preston about the practical steps and value of converting to worker and employee ownership, and what support can be provided for Preston businesses considering this option".

Two firsts for the Cornerstone family!

Our first franchisee, Weaver Valley Co-op, based in the heart of Cheshire, achieved two firsts in August 2020. It became the first majority EOT-owned co-operative to be approved by Co-operatives UK and the first worker co-op to be established in the hospitality sector. (EOT = Employee Ownership Trust)

The existing standard models of Co-operatives UK were incompatible with majority EOT ownership, as by definition worker co-ops require one member one vote whereas an EOT requires a controlling interest. In 2015 Cornerstone approached Graeme Nuttall OBE of Fieldfisher with a proposal to create a new type of co-operative, in which all employees have shares held on their behalf by the trustee of an employee trust. Over the past 5 years we have worked with Graeme, Robert Postlethwaite of Postlethwaite Solicitors and Linda Barlow of Co-operatives UK to turn this idea into reality.

It is hoped that an anonymised version of Weaver Valley Co-op's articles will become available as a new precedent worker cooperative model by Co-operatives UK, with accompanying publicity and support for this alternative approach. Initial indications are that there are two possible routes to explore: a) worker co-op new starts and conversions and b) as an option for larger worker co-ops to set up a trust to make them more tax efficient.

Gandhi Lecture 2020

On 28 July 2020 Graeme Nuttall, who was instrumental in helping to develop the employee ownership aspects of the Cornerstone model, gave the 2020 Gandhi Foundation Lecture EO v3.0 – Employee ownership with added Gandhian purpose. You can watch it on YouTube.

Press cuttings

2018 Publican Award for Best Community Pub Operator