Fair trade Department Store - Social Cooperation


Total income 2011/12    
€ 1,874,000   

How is this made up?    
All by retail.   

Human resources    
There were 79 regular employees at the end of 2013 (permanent positions, full-time and part-time, apprentices and trainees).   

Technology necessary within the fields of retail trade, logistics, and administration.   

Start-up investment    
not known   

External support    
not known

If public funding were withdrawn, could the GP continue to exist?    
Yes, since FairKauf is independent from public funding.    
Strengths, weaknesses, difficulties and lessons learned.    
Strengths: Located in the very middle of the city centre in Hannover - right at the heart of Hannover's shopping mile - and stretching over 5 floors totaling a area of 1,000 qm, FairKauf has become a significant actor within the city landscape. Another particular strength lies with FairKauf's legal form as a registered co-operative society, as well as with the business professional managing board.

Social department stores are located on a continuum of forms between the extremes of “give-away” shops and charities on the one side and professionally managed commercial department stores on the other. They have a choice of legal frameworks between association / ‘registered society’ (e.V.), limited company recognised as common benefit / charitable  organisation (gGmbH) and co-operative society (eG).

For FairKauf the choice was registered co-operative society (eG), which allows to reach all economic and social objectives of a social department store, with competent leaders accompanying people, encouraging and qualifying them and enabling them to find employment in the labour market. Furthermore, the self-financed eG is immune against hostile take-over. It allows limited liability, easy entry and withdrawal of members, integrating partners of different size or strength in a democratic internal structure, low capital contributions and accumulation of indivisible reserves from undistributed surplus. The democratic internal structure is being ensured, among other things, by each 'shareholder' having a single vote, independent of the size of their share.

Difficulties are to expect - and overcome - while expanding to other locations across the city. Lessons learned are that good PR mechanisms remain essential.   

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