As is the case with all firms, the success of a co-operative depends on its ability to develop and exploit core competencies in a manner that allows it to beneficially provide goods and services to its members. These core competencies, in turn, are linked to the quality of the relationships that the co-operative is able to establish with a wide group of actors, both inside and outside the organisation, including members (both as investors and customers), employees, and suppliers (Hall and Soskice 2001). A case in point is the Co-operative Retailing System (CRS), a network of 236 independent retail co-operatives in western Canada that own and operate their wholesaler, Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL). Since 1982, when the CRS was on the brink of financial collapse, FCL's sales to the local retailers have grown in real terms at an annual rate of 4.8%, while real net profits have grown at an annual rate of 20.4% (FCL 1983-2012). With sales of $8.3 billion and net profits of $839.4 million (FCL 2012), FCL was the largest non-financial co-operative in Canada (Government of Canada Co-operatives Secretariat 2011) and the second largest business in Saskatchewan (Saskatchewan Business Magazine 2011) in 2011.
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