Let’s take a little trip back in time with Suma…. The year is 1975….
In the UK, The Bay City Rollers are on Top of the Pops, in the States, childhood friends Paul Allen and Bill Gates start a small company called Microsoft, and back in London, a quiet man called Charlie Chaplin has just received a knighthood from a brown haired lady called the Queen. It is a very different world.
In the front room of a terraced house, in a Leeds side street, a man called Reg Taylor begins dealing wholefoods. He sells cereal flakes, dried fruits and brown rice around the north of England. Reg does it because he’s passionate about natural food - he has no idea what he has started. In 1977, Reg sells his business to seven employees and Suma the worker’s co-operative is born.
Fast-forward into the next century. It is a very different world.
Reg has moved on to other things. Suma’s still dealing wholefoods but now it’s a multi-million pound business delivering all around the UK and exporting all over the world.
Suma is not run like a traditional business. It is a worker’s co-operative, owned, managed, and run by its members. Suma has almost two hundred employees, everybody gets paid the same amount, regardless of the job that they do; this makes Suma the largest single pay employer in Europe. The result is a unique company – uniquely managed, unique to work for, and for their customers, unique levels of service.
Suma has always, always, always been a vegetarian company.
As they’ve grown, the number and type of products they’ve sold has grown enormously too. In 1977, when they were relatively small, they sold 200 products. At the start, it was pure, whole foods; dried fruit, nuts, seeds, grains, pulses and not much more. Now the range is huge; ambient, chilled and frozen groceries, household cleaning products and bodycare are just the tip of the iceberg – Suma has more than 7,000 lovely products, all under one roof waiting patiently to be delivered to your door.
Things have changed since those early days but the central thrust has remained since day one - all goods sold by Suma are 100% vegetarian, always have been – always will be. It’s something they’re committed to. Everyday in their works canteen, workers sit and enjoy a freshly prepared vegetarian meal. This is free to all workers. For Suma vegetarian food is sustainable, it’s ethical, it’s healthy and it’s delicious. This is just how it has always been - it’s in their genes.
And this year Suma was awarded “Cooperative of the year 2014” in an annual award open to over 6000 cooperative businesses. The awards are part of Co-operatives Fortnight and celebrate excellence, innovation and ethics in business as well as the achievements of the UK’s most pioneering and inspirational co-operators.
For more information visit www.suma.coop