Suma welcomes Mayor to mark Co-operatives Fortnight

The Mayor of West Yorkshire visited Suma Wholefoods to help celebrate the recent Co-operative Fortnight.

Tracy Brabin visited Suma, based in Elland, as part of the recent campaign, a national celebration of co-operative businesses. The visit aimed to gain insights into Suma’s pioneering co-operative business model, its unique challenges and opportunities, and its plans for the future.

Suma Wholefoods, established in 1977, operates as a worker co-operative, where each of its more than 200 members has an equal say in how their business is run and everyone gets paid the same wage. This democratic model has positioned Suma as one of the largest independent wholefood wholesalers in the UK and the largest equal pay co-operative in Europe.

During her visit, Mayor Brabin met with members of the Suma team, engaging in discussions about the co-operative’s innovative structure. She explored how Suma’s egalitarian approach and equal pay model fosters a sense of shared ownership and accountability among its workers, contributing to its success and resilience. She was particularly interested in understanding how the co-operative model can be replicated and scaled across other sectors to create sustainable and inclusive economic growth in West Yorkshire.

She commented: “For over 40 years, Suma Wholefoods has proved that what’s good for workers and the community, is also good for business. I really enjoyed the opportunity to see how Suma are going from strength to strength and discuss alternative ways of doing business. This #CooperativeFortnight, I renew my pledge to support all of our alternative businesses through our West Yorkshire Business for Good scheme, and I look forward to working with the next government to double the size of the co-operative sector and build a fairer, brighter region.”

Sheree Hatton, Commerce Manager at Suma, added: “Suma really showcases the power of the co-operative business model in driving economic success while prioritising ethical working and community engagement. This approach not only supports fair trade and sustainability, but also empowers its workers and suppliers. Suma actively supports other businesses looking to adopt similar models.”

The visit also highlighted the challenges faced by co-operatives, such as access to financing, market competition, and navigating regulatory frameworks while staying true to their co-operative principles. Despite these hurdles, Suma continues to thrive, with plans to expand its own product ranges and enhance its already robust and ambitious environmental initiatives, including a commitment to reducing carbon emissions and achieving zero waste status.

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