The challenges of The Co-operative Bank and the furore around the role of the former chair, made co-operatives – businesses that are member-owned – an unhappy national news story in late 2013.
Three months on and I feel that I can breathe again. But what difference did these high profile troubles make to the wider co-operative sector and the long-term reputation of our business model?
The Huffington Post carries an article I have written, which draws on our member feedback and market research. Of course, it is still early days, and much now depends on whether the troubles that flared up, with their welter of regulatory and official inquiries to follow, are put behind us – that there is, in short, no new scandal.
Overall, though, co-operatives have a resilient brand, there is still considerable public trust and sympathy and what held for one co-op, in banking, and not unlike other banks, is not seen to hold for others.
It is still a time of co-operative opportunity. Today, for example, I am visiting Midcounties Co-operative that is pioneering innovations in the energy market and in childcare – both sectors in which commercial good practice can be emblematic of a more hopeful future for all. They are a great example of the thousands of creative and enterprising co-operatives and mutuals across the UK.
The short report that I have written that this draws on is up now, and called After the Storm.