Daily Bread Co-operative
Daily Bread Co-operative is a Christian workers' co-operative specialising in packing and selling various wholefoods. It was the first Workers' Co-operative to register under what is now known as the 'white rules', and is listed as Co-op number 1 under the Industrial Common Ownership Movement (ICOM), which now forms part of Co-operatives UK. One of the founder members, Roger Sawtell, was the first chair of ICOM.
Daily Bread itself started life in the Northampton parish of St. Peter's, Weston Favell. A group of nine friends - four married couples and a bachelor - formed the idea of taking their Christian beliefs and values into a simple business environment. Since Daily Bread was founded on the basis of Christian beliefs, the name chosen comes from a line in the Lord's Prayer. Apart from Roger Sawtell, another founder member was Michael Jones, who owned a family firm of jewellers in Northampton. He had previously bevome involved in the Co-operative model of doing business, and to that end he converted his enterprise into a workers' co-operative. On examination, the founders saw a definite overlap between the Christian ethics they were attempting to operate under, and the policies under-pinning the burgeoning co-operative movement.
Daily Bread Co-operative (DBC) was registered as a limited company in March 1976, the first business of its kind to adopt a new set of Model Rules for Common Ownership. However, it was a further four years before trading started, on October the 1st 1980, in what was once the laundry of St. Andrew's Hospital, reputedly the largest privately owned psychiatric hospital in the country.
The original members of the co-operative were faced with many challenges, including the dilemmas of how to generate wealth without compromising the beliefs to which they adhered, how to provide work for those who might not be able to find it elsewhere (which was a stated secondary goal of the company), and how to balance individual freedom and creativity with the collective responsibility to care for the business, each other and the wider world community.
The Co-operative has a wide range of social aims on top of the basic task of providing healthy food to the local and wider community at a fair price. The social aims can be derived from the Preamble (see below), and in practical terms include:
- -Providing employment to mentally handicapped or disabled people and those rehabilitating into society, who would often find it difficult to obtain and maintain occupation.
- -A commitment to running the business in an ecologically friendly manner.
- -Donating a proportion of all income (as distinct from profit) to the local and global communities, locally through their Community Fund and globally through their charitable arm, Strive (Overseas) ltd.
The current workforce stands at around 25, including members and non-members, full- and part-time, and the annual turnover stands at around £1.3 million. As such, the company has clearly demonstrated that it is possible to run a successful business on Christian principles and with tangible social aims, while still being viable and competitive in the "real world".
Daily Bread as a Workers' Co-operative, in common with other Co-operatives, runs the business on the democratic principle of 'one person, one vote', meaning that all the members have an equal say in how the business should be run, as contrasted to the standard business model where a company is owned by individuals or by a group of shareholders. Daily Bread is also different in many other ways, such as a wage structure where each worker is paid equally regardless of length of tenure or seeming superiority, with only a slight increase for members over non-members in recognition of extra duties and responsibilities, and possible extra allowances for workers with dependents.
Daily Bread's product range of basic wholefoods has increased from about twelve lines in the first few months to over 5,500 different products at time of writing, and as well as wholefoods the co-operative now also stocks environmentally-friendly cleaning materials, ethical body care products, energy saving gadgets and more. No products that contain any ingredient derived from an animal are stocked, and as well as vegetarians and vegans Daily Bread also caters to those with other special dietary requirements, including wheat or gluten intolerance and diabetes. While no bread is baked on the premises, Daily Bread does carry a range of their own, cooked-on-site cereals and snacks. Moreover, it was one of the first shops in the UK to champion fair trade and organic foods.
Preamble: The Objectives of Daily Bread The Preamble is a statement agreed by the members of Daily Bread, to be regarded as the long term basis on which the enterprise is to be developed. The means by which the Preamble is put into practice will vary with changing circumstances, but the fundamental statements of purpose will not change.
Work is Fundamental
Food is Fundamental
The World is Fundamental
Commitment is Fundamental
Daily Bread Cambridge
Since opening, Daily Bread has served as a model for many other Co-operatives and wholefood sellers, including the very successful Unicorn Grocery. However, one in particular is Daily Bread Cambridge, which opened in 1992 with a staff of five: one ex-member from Northampton and four other full-time members. Its structure is very similar to Daily Bread Northampton, and the Cambridge enterprise was given permission to trade under the original name and to use the co-operative's logo. This remains the case as long as the members of Daily Bread Cambridge adhere to the social requirements and ethical practices of the original principles.
- ^ http://www.faithworksnorthampton.org.uk/
- ^ http://www.unicorn-grocery.co.uk/co-op.php
- ^ http://www.enterprise-solutions.org.uk/index.php?cat=83&page=24
- ^ http://www.co-opandcommunityfinance.coop/index.php?content=story
- ^ http://www.uk.coop/wiki/ix-new-co%E2%80%91operatives-within-diffusing-co-operation
- ^ http://www.co-opstudies.org/pdf/bookform08.doc
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