Over 130 years of trade, products and local service in Araia

La Unión Obrera, S.Coop. Consumer Cooperative

Over 130 years of trade, products and local services in the Llanada Alavesa district

 

The Cooperative will run different events to promote partner loyalty and bring in the younger population.

Founded in 1886, La Unión Obrera is one of the country’s leading Consumer Cooperatives. From its spacious premises, covering over 500 m2, it currently serves the entire Llanada Alavesa district, and employs four people. Over more than 130 years of history, La Unión Obrera, S.Coop. has made a name for itself thanks to its great service for “both partners and non-partners”.

Over all this time, most of its partners have served on the Executive Council. “Because of that, partners are aware of all the difficulties that the Cooperative has been through from both the inside and the customer’s point of view. This means that cooperative members are fully involved,” emphasises Marian Otxoa, President of La Unión Obrera.

Another characteristic and differentiating trait of the Cooperative is that, over its history, it has helped out its partners when needed. Its President explains this. “We have covered outside needs beyond simply selling products such as providing medical care, pharmacy and, when appropriate, even providing economic help to partners who were low on funds. We have also paid out dividends, when possible, thanks to accumulated profit,” she adds

 

Challenges

Regarding the immediate challenges of the Unión Obrera, S.Coop., its managers explain that they aim to highlight the service that the Cooperative provides in the district, as the only business of its type in Araia and surrounding villages. “To do so, we are organising an open day dedicated to our partners and non-partners – particularly targeting young people – to give them an inside view of management and also hoping to receive some new ideas.”

Another idea on the agenda for the Cooperative is to send out a general survey among its customers in order to find out their opinions, needs, suggestions for improvement and evaluation of the customer service provided. The results will help them work on improving customer services and loyalty among new partners. In addition, as agreed at the latest General Council meeting, the Cooperative is going to work on better communication with shop staff and get them involved, “thereby making the most of their contributions and their good knowledge of internal management.”

We should not forget that our main challenge is to compete with large-scale stores around us, as they have a wider product range and competitive prices that, due to our size, it is difficult for us to match. This explains why we are planning all the aforementioned actions, to make us stand out for our service and personalised care,” highlight the Cooperative administrators

 

The future

Regarding the future of the Cooperative, Marian Otxoa tells us that they are analysing other purchasing methods, “using other lines that involve not going to the store, as well as shopping discounts or vouchers to promote partner and customer loyalty, among other ideas.” The Cooperative administrators also emphasise that work is required to get people to appreciate local shops, selling natural products, supplied by a nearby producer. “In short, natural, good-quality products with greater added value,” they add.

“There are a few risks on the horizon but at the same time we are hopeful, aware of the major challenges ahead of us. If we are capable of getting our current and future customers involved, we are sure that we will be able to continue talking about a Cooperative for many years to come,” they conclude. We have no doubt about it

 

  • Founded in 1886 and run by its partners from the outset
  • Number of shareholding partners: 173
  • Location: 500 m2 premises in Araia
  • Provides service to the whole Llanada Alavesa district
  • Number of employees: 4 people
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