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Thursday, 27 November 2014

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Share issue on track to grow Carlisle ethical trader

Carlisle's World Shop appears to have a bright future as a share issue nudges towards its £30,000 target.

Carlisle World Shop photo
Carlisle World Shop

The social enterprise in Lowthians Lane, off English Street near the HSBC bank, sells ethical Fairtrade products including clothing, jewellery and foodstuffs.

It was opened by Lorna Strong in 2003 as a 10-year project. When she announced last year that she was ready to retire, supporters formed a co-operative to keep it going.

A share issue was launched at the end of June and is due to close today.

Individuals or organisations have been able to invest amounts from £100.

Around £22,500 has been pledged so far.

Geoff Toogood, chairman of the co-operative, says that will be enough to secure the World Shop’s future, even if the final total falls short of £30,000.

“It means we are sustainable and viable going forward,” he said.

“The object of trying to raise £30,000 was to give us more of a buffer to be able to buy stock to grow the business.

“But what we have raised already puts us on a par with where Lorna was in terms of stock.”

The share prospectus says that £30,000 is needed to fund the purchase of stock and provide working capital.

The lease on the premises runs until 2019.

Although it is likely to be renewed, the intention is to make enough profit to ensure shareholders can be repaid in full should the shop close. There may also be a dividend.

The prospectus says: “Your investment will support improved working conditions [in the developing world] and fair prices or wages that reflect the true cost of production.”

The World Shop has one part-time employee, manager Jo Osborne, aided by up to a dozen volunteers.

Turnover in 2014-15 is projected to be £80,000, and the profit before tax £13,263. Mr Toogood, a retired headteacher of Caldew School in Dalston, added: “We are in a very healthy position in comparison with lots of businesses.

“We are cautious about how we’re going to grow. We haven’t got a high-risk strategy.

“The shop’s development reflects the way the Fairtrade movement as a whole has grown in Carlisle. It’s been steady away.”

Cumbria is a hotspot for community entrepreneurship.

Recent figures from Co-operatives UK show that 2,200 people have invested in nine community share schemes similar to that run by Carlisle World Shop.

Among them is The Old Crown pub at Hesket Newmarket, which has been owned by a co-operative since 2003.

Other examples include the Baywind Energy Co-operative, which raised £1.8m to fund a windfarm on the Furness Peninsula, and Witherslack Community Shop near Kendal.

There is still time to invest in Carlisle World Shop. The co-operative will accept any shareholdings received in response to this article. Call in at the shop or email an expression of interest to shop@carlisleworldshop.co.uk

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