A Truly Co-operative Venture: The Case Study of Co-operative Food, a Retailer Response to Fair Trade

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The aim of this paper is to further develop the recent discourse surrounding the mainstreaming of fair trade (FT) products, particularly the strategic responses to fair trade by UK retailers. The research investigates the characteristics of a values-driven retailer via the exemplar of Co-operative Food (CF), a UK food retailer. The paper draws on a longitudinal case study (1999-2007) of CF and includes findings from a series of in-depth semi-structured interviews with key informants. The paper develops a set of fair trade characteristics for a values-driven business in the UK retail sector. The paper also illustrates the importance of both social resources and ethical relationship marketing in ensuring the success of a FT retailing strategy. The values-driven business model investigated in this paper demonstrates the importance of intangibles such as relationships and networks, particularly with upstream stakeholders such as cocoa farmers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-221
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Strategic Marketing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2008


  • fair trade
  • retailer
  • social resources
  • relationship marketing
  • mainstreaming

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