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International Year of Co-operatives

Rochdale, the World Capital of Co-operatives, has been hosting events across the borough throughout 2012 in celebration of the special year.

The co-operative movement was started by 28 men, the Rochdale Pioneers, in 1844 who opened the first co-op store on Toad Lane selling basic products such as butter, sugar, flour and oatmeal.

The Pioneers’ way of doing business was different. It was based on a set of values including honesty, openness, self-help and equality. They returned a share of the profits to customers and loyal customers had an equal say in how the business was run. Those principles spread across the world and 800 million people in over 100 countries are now members of co-ops. In the UK there are more than 5,500 co-operatives with a turnover of more than £30 billion.

The Rochdale Pioneers Museum, based in the original Toad Lane store, reopened in October after extensive refurbishment and Rochdale welcomed visitors from across the globe for an International Co-operative Alliance dinner, hosted in Rochdale Town Hall’s spectacular Great Hall to mark the official close of the international celebrations.   

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