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Northern Co-operative Society

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Northern Co-operative Society

Northern Co-operative Society is located in Scotland
Northern Co-operative Society
Aberdeen is Scotland's 3rd largest city

Northern Co-operative Society Limited (abbreviated to Norco), previously named Northern Co-operative Company Limited, was a local consumer co-operative trading in Aberdeen, Scotland, from 1861 to 1993.[1][2] It operated supermarkets and other businesses throughout Aberdeenshire, and employed 2000 people in 1992.

It was put into the hands of a receiver for liquidation in 1993, as a result of financial difficulties that The Guardian newspaper attributed to "an over-ambitious building and development programme" and failed attempts to dispose of the entire business as a going concern, despite the successful sale of its dairy, five pharmacies, and then several supermarkets to Argyll Stores and the Co-operative Wholesale Society (CWS).[1][2]


Scottish Co-op sold Norco's Berryden superstore to J Sainsbury, still as a going concern, in 2000.[3][4][5]

Norco was formed in 1861 as Northern Co-operative Company, by two committees of Aberdeen residents who planned to follow the example of the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society.[1] The first shop was a grocery business at 51 Gallowgate, opened in July that year.[1] The original company had a fixed capital of £1000, but in 1917, it converted into Northern Co-operative Society.[1]

The Society's headquarters were in a large building on Loch Street, which contained the company's offices as well as an arcade-style shopping area. It was described in 2000 as "like Convent Garden (sic) – a delightful, quaint area at the centre of the city where people could stroll" by Connie Leith, head of the Ferryhill Heritage Society.[6]

Norco House, a large [1] The trading name of Norco was soon adopted by the entire co-operative.[1] The "space-age" four storey Norco House department store was later bought, refurbished and operated by the John Lewis employee-owned chain.[6] The old Loch Street building remained empty and slowly deteriorated until its eventual demolition in 1986.

In 1977, Norco opened a 54,000 square feet (5,000 m2) flagship superstore in the Berryden district of Aberdeen.[1][3][7] The Berryden store was sold to the Scottish Co-op in 1993 immediately before the receivership, and operated by that co-operative for seven years.[1][7][8]

In April 1992, Norco declared a loss of £7 million, and the chief executive, Robin Pollock, resigned.[1][7] Emergency measures included a massive sell-off of businesses, and a pay freeze.[1] Kennerty Dairies (since bought by [1][2]

Operations and co-operative movement

Norco was previously noted as the only large consumer co-operative in the UK not to be a member of the Scottish or English Co-operative Wholesale Societies.

It employed 2000 people in 1992, when the financial problems became apparent, and on going into receivership in June 1993, it had 800 employees.[2]

Its trading area included the Aberdeenshire and Scotmid Co-operative, Lothian, Borders & Angus Co-operative and Scottish Co-op (a retail division of CWS, now the Co-operative Group.)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n
  2. ^ a b c d
  3. ^ a b
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  6. ^ a b
  7. ^ a b c d e
  8. ^ In 1993, Scottish Co-op was a retail division of the Co-operative Wholesale Society, from 2001 the Co-operative Group.

Further reading

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