Revolver is going to be at this year’s Co-operative Congress – we’re also finalists in the Innovation in Co-op Enterprise category!
Coffee company aims to take Fairtrade ‘to the next level’
A coffee company that aims to take Fairtrade ‘to the next level’ has won a major plaudit – being named one of the best new co-operative businesses in the country.
At the movement’s annual conference, Co-operative Congress, from Friday 24 to Sunday 26 June, Wolverhampton-based Revolver will find out whether it has won the accolade.
The co-operative was started by music mogul Paul Birch – the man who signed the Stone Roses – and is unusual in that it is a co-operative spun out from an existing private company. When not releasing and promoting records by artists as diverse as Bruce Springsteen, Deep Purple and Leo Sayer, Paul was immersing himself in the Fairtrade movement and was active in the Wolverhampton Fairtrade City group and the Fairtrade Association Birmingham.
With Paul’s music marketing background, the company initially considered teeshirts and hoodies for pop and rock fans, before diversifying into branded teeshirts for charities, including Christian Aid.
A deal with Midcounties Co-operative, which operates 450 sites across the region, gave birth to the concept of plain Fairtrade teeshirts in different colours, which were packaged in boxes rather than hung from rails – making them ideal for most retail outlets. But while the initiative was a roaring success in some of the 20 stores that took part in the trial, it was less popular in others. The introduction of an export tariff by the Indian government – which meant the company was buying items for as much as it was previously selling them for – led the directors to seek out a new market… and they hit on coffee.
Richard Bickle, one of the directors, explained: “While you might think Fairtrade is fairly well represented in the coffee industry, the benefits usually only extend to the producers.
“We were keen that everyone along the supply chain – from growers and shippers to outlets and even customers – were treated fairly, so a multi stakeholder co-operative was created to which everyone will belong.
“We feel it is the only fair and equitable way to run global commodities. This is the next logical step for the Fairtrade movement and we are leading the way.”
Revolver sources its coffee from a co-operative in Colombia and a supplier of Fairtrade coffees from Tanzania and Kenya. And while traditional Fairtrade coffees are aimed at the typical ground coffee consumer – white, middle class, middle aged males – Paul’s music marketing background will be wheeled into action again as the co-operative targets a younger demographic.
Having signed an agreement to get Revolver coffee on the shelves of more than 40 Midcounties and Penrith Co-operative stores, the company is now in discussions to sell its coffee at universities. Local authorities, independent coffee shops and even coffee machine manufacturers are also considering adopting the brand. Meanwhile, Revolver has the contract to supply all the coffee at Co-operative Congress, which this year is being held in Birmingham, providing a sampling opportunity to thousands of delegates.
Winning the title of New Co-operative of the year would, obviously, be the crowning glory for the team at Congress. But, says Richard, “simply to have been nominated is an enormous feather in our caps.”
For more information please contact Richard Bickle or Paul Birch – all details are on our Contact page.
All of us are absolutely chuffed to see our little ad get such pride of place in the industry magazine! (click for a larger version).
As well as being the official coffee supplier for Co-op Congress, we’re going all out on our exhibition stand too… if you’re attending the event don’t forget to stop by our stand, say hi and have a cup of coffee on us. We’ll have a Jura coffee machine there for the ultimate in taste too – if you’re lucky you might even be served a mochafrappaloppacino by yours truly
Sunday 26th June 2011, 11am – 2pm
Birmingham Metropole NEC Hotel, National Exhibition Centre, B40 1PP
As part of Co-operatives Fortnight 2011, co-operative members and the general public are invited to free event at the Birmingham Metropole Hotel next Sunday. This will include a wide range of tastings, workshops, demonstrations, competitions and an exhibition, reflecting the breadth of co-operative enterprise in the region, and across the UK as a whole.
The event is free to enter, but coach transport is being provided from across the region for £3 return – details from John Boyle on 0121 233 1545 or email@example.com. Co-operatives Fortnight runs from 25th June – 9th July and this year’s theme is ‘Yours to Share’ – see www.uk.coop/yourstoshare.
N.B.: this event is running alongside Co-operative Congress, the Co-operative Movement’s largest annual gathering, and has been organised by members of Co-operatives West Midlands including the Midlands Co-operative Society, Heart of England Co-operative Society, Midcounties Co-operative and the Co-operative Group.
Revolver World attended the launch of The Big Swap 2010 last night in London – were you there? (We gave away loads of T-Shirts…)
With Fairtrade Fortnight now fully underway, we’re going to be gearing up our activities over the next couple of weeks, including taking part in Birmingham’s weekend of Fairtrade celebrations and promotion in Birmingham city centre on the weekend of the 27th of February (more on that coming soon). In the meantime, to whet your appetite, here’s an interview with Harriet Lamb from Ethical.TV, where she discusses her work as director of the Fairtrade Foundation and her passions and interests outside of work.
In this interview she talks openly about how the Fairtrade movement has developed and the impact Fairtrade has had on communities in developing countries across the world and how individuals all have a part to play.
The Midcounties Co-operative is launching Fairtrade T-shirts in a box to give a better deal to disadvantaged people in India after the idea came from its own workforce. The ethical community retailer is branching into clothing for the first time after several colleagues suggested it in an internal competition for innovative ideas.
The Co-operative is already the leading supermarket supplier of Fairtrade goods. It will sell the T-shirts in 20 food stores to begin with after linking up with supplier Revolver World, a not for profit company.
The T-shirts are made from organic cotton from farmers’ co-operatives in Southern India and all those involved in their production are guaranteed a fair price. The carton packaging has a distinctive design which tells the story behind the product.
Revolver World went to its first Greenbelt festival last weekend – and what a blast! Over a blustery, sunny weekend, we enjoyed some great music (anybody else see Royksopp on the Saturday?) and some fascinating talks from all of the guest Speakers.
We’ve been selling our new ranges of Fairtrade T-shirts and Hoodies – the hoodies were literally flying off the racks! – and a couple of our promotions went down so well we’re considering extending them to online sales as well.