Friday, 27 February 2009

A better way...?

This is pretty much just a cross post from Politics for People, they have posted an excerpt from an interview that Sophi Tranchell, the boss of Divine Chocolate had with Real Business. In which she discussed the future of business and the advantages of a co-operative system.

On Politics for People they highlighted on quote regarding the construction of Heathrow's Terminal 5 as compared to a major renovation of a John Lewis store:

"I remember when John Lewis completed a £100m refurbishment of its landmark Sloane Square store, which involved dropping in a new escalator system into the building through the roof. Not only did the retailer keep the store open during trading hours, but it made more money that year than the previous year. Why did that work while projects such as Terminal Five were such utter disasters? It was because every employee in that store wanted it to work; they’d all been consulted and informed. And they knew that if the company performed well, they’d do well."

It is quite a striking contrast, and the difference in the two models is perhaps better summed up by another comment she made about the Co-operative business model as a whole:

"The dominant model of business over the past ten years clearly hasn’t worked,"


"So what model does work? While banks such as Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds have been crippled in this climate, ethical banks like The Co-operative or Triodos are doing just fine. While retails such as Zavi and Whittard of Chelsea were hurled into administration, employee-owned companies such as John Lewis, Tullis Russell and Loch Fyne are going great guns.

If you judge success as being based simply on profit, as has been the prevailing practice of most businesses, the last couple of years has shown the strength and resilience of the Co-operative business model. When you put on top of that the ethical practices and fair profit distribution of co-operatives their superiority as a business model becomes clear.

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