Co-op Conversions

Worker Co-operative Conversions

One excellent opportunity for creating a worker co-operative is through the conversion of an existing business. Conversion opportunities arise in a number of circumstances:

  • Succession option for a retiring owner
  • Divestment of a business division from large corporation
  • Union led buy-outs
  • Revival of a business which has been placed in receivership
  • Desire of an existing owner to add additional “partners” to operate the business

Successful conversion requires many steps to assess the opportunity, form the cooperative and implement the conversion. There are a number of resources available to provide guidance on these steps. In addition, having an experienced co-op developer and other professional service providers such as lawyers, accountants etc. is usually required.

More information is available at

A good general overview of the succession option is provided in Succession Planning Using the Worker Co-op Option – (Co-operative Conversion Research Project – Retiring Small Business Owners)

Additional resources have been adapted for English Canada from the Quebec-based Relais COOP Project . These include specific guides for successfully transferring a business to a co-operative and a checklist for a business-to-cooperative succession plan.

For union-led buyouts Western Labour-Worker Co-op Committee has developed a series of resources to assist unions business to convert to a worker co-operative.

For CWCF Executive Director Hazel Corcoran’s perspective on the importance of indivisible reserves as a means of preventing the demutualizing  of worker co-ops, read this January, 2020 article.