Headingley's Cooperative Food Store

On Saturday November 10th 2007 the proud new owners waved their share certificates in the air and celebrated the buy-out of the Natural Food Store on 23 North Lane, Headingley in Leeds. Each investing a minimum of £100 each – some considerably more – members of the new co-operative raised over £100,000 to buy and capitalise the business, which was formally opened by Martin Wainwright, Northern editor of the Guardian.

The Natural Food Store sells a huge range of groceries, whole-foods and food for special diets, as well as fair trade and ethical goods, including toiletries and household supplies. It is a pivotal part of the Headingley community, as well as being a highly successful business.

Customers were dismayed when they learned that Chris and Sue Sharratt, who ran the shop for over 20 years were thinking of retiring. Would yet another Headingley shop become a juice bar or take-away? Would the range of good quality food shopping outlets dwindle further? Customers decided to fight back. Under the leadership of Headingley Development Trust – a new co-operative – an Industrial and Provident Society- was set up to buy the shop and run the business.

Chris and Sue, who were delighted that the shop would continue and thrive, stayed on as employees to share their skills, knowledge and contacts. A new manager, Stuart McClelland and other staff were appointed.

Martin Wainwright congratulated the new owners – over 200 of them – on their venture. "It is wonderful seeing people taking things into their own hands and I wish the shop every success. I now look forward to the people of Headingley taking over more local provision”.

Members of the co-operative will be able to share in the financial success of the business, as well as steering its strategic direction. And membership is not closed. We are delighted to welcome all customers of the shop into membership. A lively vibrant community needs a range of shops to meet its needs and over the past 20 years the range of shops in Headingley has declined massively, with only one or two independent food retailers left. This was one of the reasons for Headingley Development Trust setting up the highly successful monthly farmers’ market, giving the local community a real alternative to supermarket food.
The trust is also leading an exciting venture to establish an arts and enterprise centre in the former Headingley primary school.

The Natural Food Store is a member of Cooperatives UK (www.cooperatives-uk.coop).