Co-op flush with finance!

A plumbing co-operative in Bristol is better equipped and set to expand after receiving financial assistance from us.

Bristol Plumbing Co-operative was formed in 2011 and is one of only a handful of trade co-ops in the UK. It offers a range of plumbing and central heating services and also advises clients on environmentally friendly products. The co-operative has three members; two are employed full time as plumbers and one who works part time as an administrator. The two plumbers met last year at a training course while both in the process of changing careers, and decided to set up the co-operative.

The money from us is being used to buy new, better quality, tools, purchase stock and pay back money loaned to the co-operative from one of its members to buy a van. It will also pay for training sessions with accounting software.

Craig Lea, one of the founders of Bristol Plumbing Co-operative, said: “Our strength lies in the fact that we are a co-operative. We are all equals, and that makes our business better and more efficient.

“If we hadn’t have had the loan from Co-operative & Community Finance, everything would have been a much slower process. We would not have been able to purchase such good quality tools and the business would not have been able to run as efficiently.”

Bristol Plumbing Co-operative is now hoping to take on several trainees from their local college. The members are looking ahead to the future, and eventually hope to expand their business into developing low cost, energy efficient housing in Bristol.

The loan is being drawn from the Avon & Bristol Co-operative Finance Fund which is one of a number of specialist funds managed by Co-operative & Community Finance.

Ian Taylor, one of our loan advisers, said: “Bristol has lots of co-operatives which will be a great market for the Bristol Plumbers, we were very pleased to be able to offer them finance through the Avon & Bristol Fund. The co-operative structure is a good one for inspiring and building confidence in potential clients, as they know how open and transparent the co-operative way of working is.”