Who we are

Who we are

At Co-op Energy, we do things differently to most energy companies. Our unique approach to business is the product of over 170 years of treating customers, members and suppliers fairly. Everything we do is governed by co-operative values, which means that our members have a say in every decision we make. And as the majority of our members are also our customers, that’s great news for you.

As part of The Midcounties Co-operative – the UK’s largest independent co-operative - we’re committed to offering our customers fair energy prices, and source our energy from local suppliers all over the country.

Find out more about what makes us different by checking out our values below.

What are co-operative values?

Co-op Energy was set up to supply energy in a way that’s fair for everyone. We do that by sticking to the following traditional co-operative values:

 

Co-operatives are open to everyone

Members can have their say on how the organisation is run and they recieve a share of the profits and benefits.

 

Co-operatives are run by their members

Co-operatives are democratic organisations that are controlled by their members. They actively participate in setting policies and making decisions, and are represented by elected members. All members have equal voting rights, one vote per member regardless of how much money they spend with the co-operative.

 

Co-operatives make economic decisions together

Members help decide how profits are allocated. Suggestions might include using profits to develop the co-operative, to build up reserves, to reward members in proportion to their trade with the co-operative, or to support other activities approved by members (such as ethical projects).

 

Co-operatives are independent

Co-operatives are owned and run by their members. This means that they are not controlled by investors and shareholders. As a member of a co-operative, you control how the organisation’s profits are spent, whether that’s paid out as dividends or reinvested into the company.

 

Co-operatives provide education and training

Co-operatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers and employees, so they can contribute effectively to their development. They also inform the public (specifically young people and opinion leaders) about the nature and benefits of being part of a co-operative.

 

Co-operatives co-operate

The most effective Co-operatives work together at every level, from local and regional to national and international levels.

 

Co-operatives support their local communities

Co-operatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.

 

In addition to our co-operative values, you can find out more about our ethics here.

Our history

Our values stem from a long history of doing business differently. Read our story to find out how Co-op Energy, The Midcounties Co-operative, and co-operative business values in general first came to be.

1760 – 1840 – The community cost of the Industrial Revolution

Although the Industrial Revolution reshaped our society in hugelysignificant ways, it also created many challenges. One of these was the difficulty that many families faced trying to buy everyday items for a fair price – especially when new industrial communities were formed around mills and factories. New shops couldn’t pop up quickly enough to serve the new communities, so existing shopkeepers enjoyed an unfair monopoly, while food prices rose higher and higher.

1844 – The Rochdale Pioneers open their first co-operative shop

As well as bringing the Industrial Revolution, the Victorian era also popularised self-help values, and the ideas of social reformers such as Robert Owen. This allowed the Rochdale Pioneers, founders of The Co-op, to realise that they could achieve more as a collective than they ever would alone. So they opened a shop on Toad Lane in Rochdale, selling goods at reasonable prices to raise funds for their own Co-operative community. They also introduced a dividend, meaning every customer could become a member of the society and receive a share of the profits.

1900 – Co-operative business becomes a movement

By the end of the 19th century, there were over 2000 Co-operative societies across the country – including Oxford, Cinderford and Chipping Norton. The benefits of doing business with Co-operative values in mind were evident up and down the country – and local societies were able to thrive well into the next century.

2000 – Growing together

By the time the millennium arrived, smaller Co-operatives in the Midcounties area had realised they would be stronger together, and merged to create two big societies: Oxford, Swindon and Gloucester Co-op, and West Midlands Co-op.

2005 – The Midcounties Co-operative is formed

The members of Oxford, Swindon and Gloucester Co-op and West Midlands Co-op decided together that they would merge their societies. And so, The Midcounties Co-operative was formed.

2010 – Co-op Energy is set up

By 2010, the Midcounties Co-operative was offering ethical products and services across multiple industries, from food and funerals to childcare and travel. The next step was to set up a co-operative energy company. Although we were founded by a regional co-operative, we are very much a national business, supplying energy across the whole of England, Scotland and Wales.

2016 – Giving GB Energy a helping hand

After facing difficulties relating to rising wholesale energy costs, GB Energy Supply ceased trading in 2016. That’s when Co-op Energy reached an agreement with GB Energy and Ofgem to take over responsibility for all GB Energy accounts, and help get them back on their feet. Today, GB Energy trades under Co-op Energy, but the GB Energy team still manages all its own customers, customer service enquiries, and of course, its own energy services.

Today – Spreading co-operative values across the world

Today the Midcounties Co-operative is the largest independent co-operative in the UK, with over 600,000 members and 539 sites. Each year, we achieve sales of over £1bn a year across our eight group businesses: Food, Energy, Travel, Pharmacy, Flexible Benefits, Funeral, Childcare and Post Offices, using profits to fund ethical activities both locally and across the world.