ONE of the few independent co-operative societies left is set to give ex-pats around the world a taste of Britain.
Wooldale Co-operative Society - which runs three small stores at Wooldale, New Mill and Thongsbridge - is to deliver groceries across the globe via a new website.
The site at www.expat.coop will be launched early in the new year to supply Brits abroad with their much-missed foodstuffs - like Marmite, Heinz Baked Beans and Jacob's Cream Crackers.
Ex-pats - and anyone else who yearns for British delicacies like Yorkshire Tea, Scottish haggis or Welsh soda bread - will be able to order the goods online. There will also be recipes - with the Co-op able to ship out all the ingredients needed.
Fergie Cowan, chief executive of Wooldale Co-op, said the new website had been prompted by repeated requests for items from ex-pats.
"I was amazed at the number of times I was asked to send goods to them that they missed from the UK and found difficult to get," he said. "So, I ran an experimental `store' on the internet for about six months to test the water and was surprised at the interest it created."
As part of the changes, Wooldale Co-op has revamped its existing website at www.wooldale.coop to provide information about the society, its board members and stores as well as application forms for membership, copies of the rules and annual reports.
It has also launched a website selling wines at www.wooldalewines.coop.
Earlier this year, Wooldale Co-op received planning permission to refurbish its head office in Wooldale to provide three luxury apartments, a new office suite, improved staff facilities and a revamped store. An extensive cellar area will provide space to operate the two web shops as well as storage.
Mr Cowan said the changes would help safeguard the future of the business.
"We are determined to see the society survive for another 116 years as a profitable, independent co-operative business," he said.