the co-operative difference

Overview

Co-operative Travel is part of the Midcounties Co-operative, an innovative co-operative society that has its roots back in 1844.
With the introduction of a strong new brand and consumers realising the importance of ethics in making their shopping choices, the co-operative movement is going from strength to strength.
The Midcounties Co-operative is proudly embracing these changes by actively promoting our co-operative values and the co-operative difference to our customers. We’re recruiting and engaging more members than ever and supporting more community projects.
This really is an exciting time to be a co-operative, or be part of a co-operative. With sales across the Midcounties Group increasing year on year, there’s never been a better time to join and start receiving your share of the profits.

Welcome to The Midcounties Co-operative Travel website.
Welcome to a more co-operative way of doing business.

What is a Co-operative?

A co-operative is a group of people acting together to meet the common needs and goals of its members, sharing ownership and making decisions democratically. Unlike a PLC co-operatives are not about making big profits for shareholders, but they exist to create value for customers – this is what gives co-operatives a unique character, and influences our values and principles. Since 1844 there have been co-operatives; organisations set up by communities for the good of local people, providing quality produce at fair prices.

Our Mission Statement

We strive 'to be a successful consumer co-operative working towards creating a better, fairer world and to enhance the lives of our colleagues, members, customers, and the communities we serve'. That means that we are an ambitious business guided by the co-operative values and principles to ensure that everything we do benefits our members and the wider community.

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Our Values

As a co-operative society we are governed by the co-operative values & principles that guide all co-operative enterprises around the world. At The Midcounties
Co-operative we have selected four key values that we believe are the main elements guiding our business practices.They are:

Democracy

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All co-operatives are democratic organisations, owned, controlled and run by our members. Our Board of Directors consists of members elected by other members into these roles, and the Board drives the direction our Society takes.

Our AGM is the perfect forum for members to have their say. Our democratic structure means that members must agree any rule changes that are passed and have an open forum to ask questions of the Board and Executive team. Discussions are also hosted on the day – it is true democracy in action. 

Openess

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Openness means many things for our Society, but principally it’s about creating an environment where everyone is free to share their views and have an input into their Society. Internally this is done through an annual Colleague Survey, regular Colleague Council meetings and forums and conferences that allow everyone to bring their ideas to the table.

Openness is also important when it comes to honestly and transparently communicating with our members and customers. Trust is something that is at the heart of co-operative dealing and we therefore strive to open and honest with everyone we come into contact with.

Equality

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Our commitment to equality means recognising the opportunities and benefits each individual can bring to Society, and realising that, whilst everyone is different, we all deserve to be treated fairly and as equality.

We know that to be a strong business diversity, both within the business and our customer base, is a key consideration and we have a number of focus groups set up to ensure we addressing this issue as comprehensively as possible. 

And, as an equal opportunities employer we strive to create an inclusive working environment for all colleagues.

Social Responsibility

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Many businesses these days claim to be socially responsible. For co-operatives this goes much further. Forming one of the values and principles on which we base our business, social responsibility is at the heart of co-operation.

As a co-operative business we are working towards creating a better, fairer world through our environmental initiatives. With a strong focus on energy saving and recycling, the Society has achieved the following in 2016;

Increased recycling levels to 91% in 2016 compared to 85% in 2015, and compared to 21% in 2009 (reducing 3,000 tonnes of waste from landfill per annum)

- Reduced the total amount of waste that we produce in 2016 to 3,600 tonnes, compared to 3,800 tonnes in 2015, and compared to 5,500 tonnes in 2013

- Reduced energy usage by 4% compared to the previous year, saving 1,500 tonnes of CO2 and reduced energy usage by over 15% since 2010 (saving over 7,000 tonnes of CO2)

- Achieved re-accreditation for Business in the Community’s Responsible business awards for Sustainable Products and Services in recognition for our year on year sustainability progressFrom returning a share of our profits to our local communities to supporting renewable energy projects, fair trade and local suppliers; we hope that we are building a better environment for everyone.

Read more about what we've done and what we plan to do in the coming year here.

You can read more about the Midcounties Co-operative society here.

Heritage

Since 1844 there have been co-operatives; organisations set up by communities for the good of local people, providing quality produce at fair prices.

Midcounties launched its first store in 1853 and there's been no stopping us since, but no matter how we grow our values of Democracy, Openness, Equality and Social Responsibility remain the same.

We're proud of our heritage, independence and our local roots - those are things that will never change. The Co-operative Movement has its roots in the 19th Century when the Industrial Revolution resulted in widespread exploitation and misery for many working people.

One particular form of exploitation that was common was the way many people found it difficult to obtain good quality food at a fair price.

The Rochdale Pioneers are credited with starting the first successful retail co-operative society in 1844, although there had been earlier attempts. The Pioneers opened a shop in Toad Lane, Rochdale selling unadulterated goods at reasonable prices to raise funds to create their own co-operative community. They also introduced a dividend that meant that all of its customers could become members of the Society and received a return in accordance with their expenditure.

By 1890, the efforts of ordinary men and women had forged a Movement of some 1,400 societies right across the century, with even more in Europe and elsewhere throughout the world. However, during the last century, the Co-operative Movement has undergone many changes in order to meet the challenge posed by multiple retailers, including combining to create larger and more efficient organisations.

Today, there are around 39 retail co-operative societies in the UK ranging in size from small 'one shop' societies to giants with sales of over £5 billion. Scroll through the timeline on the right or read more about our heritage on our main Society website.

Read more

Service

We take great pride in the level of service that we provide to our customers and we are delighted to have been awarded the Feefo Gold Trusted Merchant Accreditation again for 2017, an award based purely on customer feedback on the service they received from us when booking their holiday.

 

Our team of travel experts are all extremely well-travelled and can offer advice based on first-hand knowledge of the many destinations they have visited.

As a Co-operative, we are fully independent and not tied to any individual tour operator and this means we are able to offer fully impartial recommendations to you for your next holiday.

We are delighted to have been awarded the Feefo Gold Trusted Merchant Accreditation

Responsible Travel

We are delighted to work in partnership with the Travel Foundation as it fits so closely with our company values of co-operation and supporting local communities. By partnering with the Travel Foundation we are able to do this on a global scale and support communities and environments in destinations that our colleagues, customers and members love to visit.

The Travel Foundation

Founded in 2003 the Travel Foundation is an independent charity working to ensure tourism benefits people and the environment in destinations all around the world. The Travel Foundation works closely with communities, tourism businesses, local authorities and many other groups and organisations in order to transform tourism in a way that makes it more sustainable, fairer and engaging for local communities as well as providing a more authentic experience for people vising the destination. In 2015 the Travel Foundation contributed over £1m towards the charitable activities that they support. 72% of the income that enabled them to make these contributions came through the generosity of people like you donating amounts as small as £1 when booking holidays. We are delighted to support the travel foundation and do hope that you will consider making a similar small donation next time you book with us to enable us to continue to support the great work that the Travel Foundation are doing all around the world. You can read more about the great work that the Travel Foundation do on their website, click here to visit the Travel Foundation.

Our Partnership Objective

Our shared goal is to measurably improve knowledge of sustainable tourism products and practices with the Co-operative Travel team and to support our customers in making more sustainable holiday choices. We will also seek to raise the profile of our charitable partnership and, in turn, increase the total annual funds raised from customers that directly support the ongoing work of the Travel Foundation.

Sustainable Tourism

The Travel Foundation are working in a number of ways towards their vision of sustainable tourism and they have a wide range of projects, working with tourism decision makers to embed change within the travel & tourism industry. Some examples of how the Travel Foundation have helped implement sustainable ways of working in the tourism industry are:

Enhancing the quality and sustainability of products and services in destinations, creating better customer experiences that also benefit the people and environment in destinations. Their work in Mombasa is a great example of positive industry change.

They deliver and develop bespoke training programmes to help entrepreneurs improve business skills, and to help organisations in the destination support their future development. They ran a train-the-trainer project in Jamaica so that local tourism trainers could support craft entrepreneurs.

They also support businesses and governments to embed change into their policies, to help destinations thrive. For example, they helped the Cyprus Tourism Organisation embed minimum standards for sustainability into their hotel standards for all tourist accommodation on the island.

We are proud to support the Travel Foundation with all their projects, especially those that are so closely linked to our own values.

Here’s one story that’s particularly close to our hearts….

Much Kaab Cooperative

PROJECT AIMS

1. To increase economic, social and cultural benefits to the Much Kaab honey co-operative and their families

2. To provide an incentive to support the conservation of the Melipona bee and the preservation of the Maya beekeeping cultural tradition

3. To provide a model of best practice for other communities, in relation to both beekeeping and business development Why? Communities living in rural areas have few opportunities to earn a living from tourism. Linking their product to the tourism industry will help the cooperative to earn a living from tourism, and remain living in their home village.

Why? Communities living in rural areas have few opportunities to earn a living from tourism. Linking their product to the tourism industry will help the cooperative to earn a living from tourism, and remain living in their home village.

Results so far

Change in business practice
11 large hotels and one gift shop chain have changed their purchasing policies, giving market access to small scales supplier

Business skills
The cooperative have gained experience of developing a brand, and running market testing, and now have a customer facing brand and packaging attractive to the tourism market.

Confidence
Increased cooperative members confidence in meeting with suppliers and participating in trade events

Increased income
In the first year of trading, the group generated over £5,500 in sales (an increase from £270)

You can see more information on this and many more Travel Foundation projects on the Travel Foundation Website.

Community

At The Midcounties Co-operative we place a great importance on supporting the communities we serve, because it’s something that matters to our members, our customers and our colleagues.

Concern for the community is one of the co-operative principles on which we base our business and we look to give something back to our communities in a number of ways.

 From volunteering at schools and local charities to fundraising for our charity partner, and donating a share of our profits back to organisations that need our support, there are so many ways we are engaging with the people we serve.

Our work within the community has been recognised by a number of national bodies and we’ve received many awards. Take a look through this section to find out more about what we do, and how we could help your organisation.

Supporting Local Communities

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Regional Communities' is a focussed, measured approach to supporting communities in an identified geographical location where the society has a strong trading presence. Measured, with clear targets, Regional Communities is a programme that puts Midcounties at the very heart of the local life, ensuring that we are truly community owned, community led, and community rewarding.

Our colleagues and members work together to support local community projects that matter to those who work, live and learn in the local community.

The Midcounties Co-operative is one of only a handful of UK businesses to achieve a 5 star rating in Business in the Community’s annual benchmark of responsible business, the Corporate Responsibility Index (CR Index). We are proud to have achieved 99% against an average of 91% for our sustainability practices.

Find out more and learn how to apply for funding for your local community project here.

Volunteering

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As a Society, our colleagues also receive an entitlement of up to three days each year to volunteer within their normal working hours.

 Last year our colleagues across the Society completed 36,100 volunteering hours (compared to 26,000 in 2015). If this work had been paid for it would have cost the beneficiaries over £500,000. 21,000 of these hours were completed in Regional Community areas (increase from 10,800 in 2015).

We believe that volunteering gives our colleagues a fantastic opportunity to develop individually and as part of a team while making a real difference to their community.  Colleagues taking part in our volunteer programme have participated in numerous activities – anything from painting a church hall, to supporting employability events or one-to-one mentoring for young people.   

If you would like to find out more about the scheme and how our colleague volunteers can make a difference at your community group, or if you are interested in volunteering, click here to contact the Midcounties Community team.

Responsible Retailing

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As a co-operative we’re working towards a better, fairer world. Our Society is working to make a difference in a positive way to the lives of people, both in your community and throughout the world. For example, on a local level our stores over essential services and we support and fund local community projects. On a worldwide level, we continue to support a variety of initiatives including Fairtrade, ethical sourcing and caring for the environment.

All of our trading groups are doing their bit, with our Funeral Group introducing LpG fuels for some funeral vehicles to achieve reduced emissions and launching a range of environmentally friendly coffins. At our Childcare nurseries biodegradable nappies are used and children are taught the value of recycling and environmental awareness.

Brochure Recycling

As you can imagine, producing numerous travel brochures creates waste. As part of The Midcounties Co-operative’s commitment to the environment we endeavour to recycle all our brochures and, wherever possible, send e-brochures to our customers to help reduce waste even further.

The Society was reaccredited for the second time with the fair tax mark in 2016 , which certifies that we pay the right amount of tax in the right place at the right time. This Tax Charter represents a formalisation of our approach on tax matters and reflects our outlook and values.

Within the overall framework set by the Charter, we believe it is fair that we look for ways to mitigate the Society’s tax bill to ensure we do not pay more tax than we need to.  

However, our approach will always be based on a recognition that as a values led and ethical organisation we should pay the taxes we are due to pay and we should not engage in aggressive tax avoidance schemes, even if legal.

Click here to view our Tax Charter

Membership

The Midcounties Co-operative is a business owned by its members. The members elect a Board of Directors who ensure that:

High quality services are delivered to our members and customers

We respect the environment and trade to the highest ethical standards

Support is given to our local communities

You control your membership. You can be involved as much or as little as you like. From simply using the Society's businesses to becoming a Board Director.

As an organisation that is owned by its members, co-operation is central to our purpose. Our members have the opportunity to tell us what is important to them, and we listen to and act on their comments. Members decide what percentage of our profits are returned to the members and to the local community. The AGM and the regional half yearly members' meetings are a key way that members can have a say in the running of their Society. And of course members are encouraged to use their vote in the Society's annual elections in the autumn, when members like you contest places for the Society's Board of Directors.

Membership Benefits

Being a member of The Midcounties Co-operative offers you the opportunity to earn membership points when you trade with us. These points are then converted into a Share of the Profits, the value of which is approved by our members at our members’ meetings. From childcare and energy, to healthcare and travel, being a Midcounties Co-operative member ensures you enjoy a range of benefits across all our business areas.

You can find a breakdown of how to earn points and our current rewards here.

Member Travel Club

We are delighted to announce that Midcounties Co-operative members now have access to exclusive travel benefits with our Member Travel Club. We are passionate about providing our members with the widest choice of holidays as well as hand-picked exclusive discounts, rewards and VIP rates on travel money, all available at your local Midcounties Co-operative Travel store.

We source unique new offers for our members every month which we distribute via exclusive email offers, to ensure you get the most from your membership with Midcounties Co-operative.

Awards

The Midcounties Co-operative has had a lot to celebrate recently, with awards both at a Society level and also within our individual business areas.

The Society awards recognise our collegue engagement and our innovation, these national awards mark us out as sucessful co-operative business and we are extremely proud to have achieved this recognition.

Click the awards below to find out more:

Travel Awards

Feefo Gold Trusted Merchant

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We are delighted to have been awarded the Feefo Gold Trusted Merchant Accreditation for service again for 2017.

Only businesses that have received over 100 reviews within a year, and with a service rating above 95% receive Feefo's most prestigious award.

Best Use of Social Media

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We were delighted to receive this award in the 2016 Agent Acheivement Awards. It is an award that reflects the hard work and dedication from our Social Media team in producing engaging and innovative content for our many followers.

You can see a full ist of winners in all categories here.

Central England - Large Agency

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Agent Achievement Awards Winner 2017

We were delighted to be awarded, for the fourth year running, the Central England Large Agency of the year award at the 2017 Agent Acheivement Awards.

See the full ist of winners here.

Society Awards

Co-operative Of The Year

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The Midcounties Co-operative has been named Co-operative of the Year at the annual Co-operative Awards.

The awards celebrate excellence, innovation and ethics in business and the Society was honoured with the accolade due to both its financial performance and social responsibility.

The award was presented at the Co-operatives United festival in Manchester where co-operatives from all over the world gathered to mark the end of the United Nations International Year of Co-operatives.

Chief Executive Ben Reid said, “This is a great honour from the co-operative movement and we are extremely proud to be recognised by our peers with this prestigious award. To achieve it in the International Year of Co-operatives makes it very special indeed.” 

Queens Award For Enterprise In Sustainable Development

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The Midcounties Co-operative has been awarded the Queens Award for Enterprise in Sustainable Development. The award which will be presented to the Society by The Queen in July is the highest official UK award for British businesses, so to be recognized with such a prestigious award is a significant success for the society.

This award acknowledges the Society’s positive environmental initiatives, sustained growth and contribution to local communities.

In the past decade the Midcounties has increased sales by 65 per cent to £1.2billion and have distributed a total of £44million in profits as dividends to their members. They have also raised over £1.4million for local charities and good causes, showing  their continued commitment to social responsibility as it has grown.

Their Co-operative Energy business was also recognised in the Queen’s Awards for buying three quarters of its energy supply from renewable sources and being the first energy provider to give customers control of how it sources its energy mix.

In the past two years alone, Midcounties colleagues, members and customers have raised over £550,000 for its charity partner Teenage Cancer Trust, and the Society is now focusing its fundraising and community effort into local activity to make a different in the local areas where it operates

Best Companies Accreditation

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A stellar endorsement from its own workforce has seen The Midcounties Co-operative awarded a prestigious two-star rating in a national business awards scheme.

Best Companies accreditation recognises high levels of employee engagement and is sought after by some of the UK and Northern Ireland’s leading high street names and other successful businesses.

Achieving two-star status puts Midcounties in the ‘outstanding’ category and is two steps higher than last year’s listing of ‘One to Watch’.

The award was presented at a ceremony in London. Chief Executive Ben Reid, said: “This is very special, as a significant part of the assessment is feedback from our own colleagues.

“For any business to be successful you have to have those you work with on your side, sharing a common goal and vision.

“When you have 9,000 colleagues across 450 sites that’s a big task but this award is a clear demonstration that it’s a challenge we’ve met in style. I’m very proud to accept this award on behalf of all the colleagues at Midcounties.”

Best Companies accreditation follows the elite ‘Michelin-style’ star rating system. Based on employee feedback, organisations receive an index score which determines their star-rating compared to a fixed standard.

The score is defined from employees’ responses to questions within the Best Companies survey, which assesses all areas of the employment experience. This includes leadership, personal development, wellbeing and remuneration.

The two-star accolade follows hot on the heels of Midcounties retaining its Investor in People Gold award, alongside being named Co-operative of the Year in the annual Co-operative Awards that celebrate excellence, innovation and ethics in business.

5 Star Rating In Business

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The Midcounties Co-operative has been awarded a coveted 4.5 star rating in Business in the Community’s annual benchmark of responsible business, the Corporate Responsibility Index (CR Index), rising from 4 stars in 2014 and achieving a score of 99% in 2016 against a national average of 91%.

The CR Index is a robust benchmarking tool which has helped hundreds of companies measure and manage the progress they are making to integrate responsible business practice into their mainstream business at all levels. 

The sought after 5 star rating, which few businesses have achieved, recognises the Society’s commitment to supporting and developing the communities in which it trades.

The Society has been praised for distributing over £1.5 million in charity and community investment, including £550,000 for Teenage Cancer Trust, and for providing support to over 10,000 community groups in 2014.

The CR Index also recognises businesses who have excelled in environmental activity and rewarded The Midcounties Co-operative for its outstanding success in reducing energy consumption by 10 percent since 2009 and increasing the percentage of its waste that is recycled from 21 percent to 83 percent during the same time period. In total, the Society has made staggering eco efficiency savings of over £1 million.

Pete Westall, Group General Manager for Co-operative Social Responsibility, said: “The Midcounties Co-operative is committed to bringing our members and colleagues together to provide impactful and sustainable support for local community groups. We are extremely proud of everyone who helped us to achieve this outstanding rating and to make a lasting difference in the areas where we do business.

Service Reviews from Feefo

We are very proud of the service that we provide and we strive to offer the best possible levels of service to all our customers whenever they contact us. We ask every customer to provide feedback on the service they have received whenever they book with us and you can see these reviews below.

Gold Trusted Merchant Accreditation

We were delighted to be awarded the Feefo Gold Trusted Merchant accreditation for 2017 follwoing on from us receiving the same award in 2016. The Gold Trusted Merchant accreditation is the highest level of award issued by Feefo and we are very grateful to all our customers for helping us to acheive this by providing their feedback.

 

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