The Shop

The Shop on Old Road in Harbertonford has been there for over a hundred years. This old postcard image shows the shop in about 1913.

Other shops in the village have come and gone over the century, but it has kept going. It is now an essential resource for many who live in the area, as reflected in the survey that was conducted in 2019.

It would be a tradgedy if it closed, which is why we are working to bring it into community ownership.

We are shortly going to be having a Community Share Offer to raise the funds to take over the business. There is a lot more about this in the following sections.

Community Share Offer coming soon ...

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Community Share Offer

Please note that the initial Community Share Offer is now closed and the Post Office and Store is now owned by the community.
However, it will always be possible to buy shares. Because the terms remain largely the same as during the intitial Community Share Offer, we have left the background information below which we would encourage you to read before purchase.
Thank you.

The Harbertonford Community Limited (THCL), a Community Benefit Society, is offering shares in the Society to raise the funds needed to bring the business that is the shop and post-office into community ownership, to refurbish it and to seek to provide a small bar-cafe.

The opening date of the share offer is Friday, 10 June 2022. The closing date will be Monday, 25 July 2022.

The THCL Management Committee reserves the right to extend the offer beyond this initial period if they believe doing so would benefit the share issue.

The goal of this share offer is to raise a minimum of £60,000, an optimum of £90,000 and a maximum of £120,000.

The cost per share is £20. The minimum investment per individual is £20 and the maximum investment per individual is £10,000.

Application has been made to the Power To Change, Community Share Booster programme, to invest up to £25k in the share offer.

THCL is a Community Benefit Society registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and its registered number is 8236 (or RS008236 at Companies House ). The registered office is Lyndhurst, Woodcourt Road, Harbertonford, TQ9 7TY.

Shares in THCL will not be eligible for any dividend payments. ‘Interest’ will be paid at the discretion of the Management Committee as stated in the THCL Society Rules.

Community shares are fully at risk and you could lose some or all of the money you invest. You have no right to compensation from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, nor any right of complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

You are advised to read this document in conjunction with the full THCL Share Offer Prospectus and the THCL Business Plan, and to obtain independent financial advice if you are unsure about investing.

Community Shares Standard Mark

This share offer has been awarded the Community Shares Standard Mark by the Community Shares Unit in recognition of it meeting national standards of good practice.

These standards ensure that:

  • The offer document and application form are easy to understand;

  • You are provided with all the facts you need to make an informed decision;

  • The facts are supported by the annual accounts and/or Business Plan for the Society;

  • Nothing in the documents is purposefully incorrect, confusing, or misleading

THCL has also signed the Standard Mark Code of Practice requiring it, among other things, to give the public a right of complaint to the Community Shares Unit.

For more information about community shares, the Community Shares Standard Mark and the Community Shares Unit go to:

The Aims and Objectives of THCL

Our vision is to run the village shop under community ownership, and for it to be a thriving and profitable venture. The shop will be run profitably by the community for the community, with all surplus profits being used to support local projects and individuals in need.

The business plan has more details, but in summary our aims will be:

  • Keep and develop the Post Office and the services it offers;

  • Maintain and develop the shop as a community hub connecting with residents and visitors and supporting our village halls, local clubs and societies;

  • To add a bar-cafe to the end of the shop, subject to planning permission, as a place the community can meet;

  • Develop links with other local businesses for mutual benefit;

  • Support and assist socially isolated and less mobile residents;

  • To provide employment, and continuity for existing staff, and to work with the community to create new jobs, volunteer and training opportunities;

  • Support local traders and suppliers to improve sustainability and reduce ‘food miles’, reduce waste and promote environmentally beneficial initiatives.

The Background

As many reading this will know, THCL was initially formed to save the Maltsters Arms pub, but it became increasingly apparent that because of its location and state of repair there was little community appetite for this project. Then, in 2020, we were approached by Gerry Mulrine, owner of the shop. He wanted the community to take over the business, as he wanted to retire.

This appeared to be a unique opportunity to create something special and to secure and enhance the important services the shop and post-office provide to the community of Harbertonford and the surrounding villages.

To see if there was community support we conducted a comprehensive survey of Harbertonford and the surrounding villages. The survey showed there was overwhelming support and a recognistion of the importance of the Post Office, Shop and the proposed Bar-Cafe.

There is a lot more information on the survey results in the THCL Business Plan.

Who Are We ?

THCL is run by its Management Committee of up to 12 members which will be elected annually.

The role of Chair is currently held by John McKay, the Secretary is Matthew Roddan and the Treasurer is Graham Clayton. The other members come from a variety of backgrounds and together make up a very experienced team.

The Management Committee are bound by the Rules of the Society that are available for download from our website or from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

These rules were adopted from Model Rules provided by the Plunkett Foundation, which has helped in the creation of many Community Benefit Societies that are now running community shops and pubs throughout the country.

The Business Plan

The following is a brief overview of our business plan and explains the targets we have set for the community share offer. There is a lot more detail in the THCL Business Plan document, which can be downloaded from our website.

As we are taking over an existing business, we do not have to make many assumptions about likely turnover and profitability. The current owner of the shop has been very helpful in providing us with all the information we need.

To take over the business we have allocated the following costs:

Cost £’s
Business Purchase 25,000
Current Stock Purchase 15,000
Professional Services – Contracts etc 8,000
Refurbishment 16,000
Equipment upgrades and IT 12,000
Working Capital 14,000
Total 90,000

The Optimum Target is derived from this. If the share offer raises £65,000, then £25k may be added to by Power To Change, giving us the £90,000 we need.

The Minimum Target of £60,000 would limit refurbishment and equipment and subsequent upgrade costs would then need to be paid for out of profits. AThis would be matched, yielding £60,000.

The Maximum Target of £120,000 would give the business extra resilience and allow it to look more immediately at other options, such as an electric delivery vehicle to enhance the business and the service to the community.

The table below is a summary of the financial projects for the next 3 years, for the shop. The bar-cafe is considered separately in the detailed business plan as it will only make a small contribution to profits.

Year 1 £’s Year 2 £’s Year 3 £’s
Sales 414,800 439,200 463,600
Purchases 340,000 360,000 380,000
Post Office 8,000 8,000 8,000
Wages & NI 32,000 33,600 35,280
Trading Costs & Depreciation 41,800 36,800 36,800
Trading Profit (before tax) 9,000 16,800 19,520

The current business is doing well, but with some extra investment, that would be made possible by this share offer, there is the potential to grow the business and in the longer term fund local community projects from the profits.

Your investment in this community share offer will not only secure the business for the community, but will seed a long-term source of funds for the community that will give it the power to shape its future.

Community Share Offer coming soon ...

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Share Offer - FAQs

1. What is a Community Benefit Society ?

A Community Benefit Society is an equitable organisation, with every member having just one vote, irrespective of how many shares they hold. We have set a limit, so no individual can hold more than 10% of the shares. Business decisions are made by a Management Committee of up to 12, elected by and from the membership annually at the AGM. Community Benefit Societies are member-owned organisations that seek to provide benefits for their community.

In our case, the Society will be owned by its member shareholders under the name of The Harbertonford Community Limited (THCL) and it will only carry out business for the benefit of the community which it serves.

Trading profits will be either reinvested to maintain and improve our facilities, fund share withdrawals or support other community projects.

If all community objectives are satisfied, the Management Committee can, at its discretion, pay a modest interest to shareholders, although it is not currently our plan to do so.

It is our hope that this share offer will result in a large and representative membership as this brings many benefits including:

  • more people who have a financial interest in the running of the enterprise and who are more likely to use it regularly;
  • more people eligible to attend AGMs and committee meetings and positively contribute to the overall direction of the business;
  • an accessible pool of people to draw on when committee numbers are falling, or when more volunteers are needed to help run the business.
2. How can I join the Management Committee ?

The Management Committee is elected annually at the AGM, so you just need to put your name forward. However, there are often vacancies arising throughout the year, so please do get in touch if you are interested. The Society will always benefit from new ideas and perspectives.

3. What happens if we raise more than the £60,000 maximum ?

If we raise more than our maximum target then we will end the share offer.

4. What happens if we raise less than the £30,000 minimum ?

If we raise less than our minimum target of £30,000 then we also would not be granted any matched funding and the project would not be viable.

If this circumstance arose, then the share offer period would be extended for a period.

If we still failed to meet the minimum target, then it would suggest that the project does not have the support from the community that we believed was there; the project would be ended and all share investment would be returned in full.

Until the minimum target is reached, all shareholder funds will be held as restricted funds and unavailable for any use.

5. What happens if THCL becomes insolvent ?

THCL is an asset-locked Community Benefit Society which means that in the event of insolvency the assets would be sold off.

After paying off any creditors any remaining amount would then be paid back to investors, in proportion to their original investment.

Any surplus after that would be transferred to one or more community organisations that support the objectives of THCL.

It is important you are aware that whilst no investor will be liable for any losses or shortfall of funds in the event of insolvency, investors will not have any rights to compensation under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme or recourse to an ombudsman because Community Benefit Societies are exempt from the regulations governing public share offers.

6. Who can buy shares ?

This share offer is open to anyone over the age of 15.

You do not need to live or work in the village of Harbertonford or the surrounding area. We welcome any investor who would like to become a part owner of the community shop.

However, the goal of the Management Committee is that at least 75% of the shareholders live or work in the parishes of Harberton & Harbertonford, Ashprington & Tuckenhay, Cornworthy, or Halwell & Moreleigh. The Management Committee reserves the right to refuse applications if it does not feel it is in the best interests of the community.

Companies, clubs, societies, or groups of private individuals can invest. However, any such group will be required to nominate a representative for its group on its application form, who will then act on behalf of the group. Whoever is nominated for a group of investors will be the legal owner of the shares and the group’s members will need to make its own arrangements for such things as how votes will be cast on their behalf and how any interest payments or withdrawals will be repaid to everyone who contributed from the outset.

7. What is the minimum individual investment ?

A single share has a value of £20, and the minimum individual investment is £20.

8. What is the maximum individual investment ?

There is a maximum individual investment of £10,000, but also we will try to ensure that no one individual holds more than 10% of the shares, to ensure THCL is not dependent on one investor.

9. Will the shop have to close for a while ?

We plan to do some refurbishment of the interior but we hope to be able to do this in stages and to keep the shop open. If there is a need to close for a few days we will ensure that the community has plenty of notice.

10. Will shareholders be offered a discount ?

At this stage there won’t be any shop discounts for shareholders but this will be kept under review. We may have a loyalty card scheme and will consult with members about this.

11. Who will own the shop ?

The business that is the shop and the post office, and potentially the bar-cafe, will belong to THCL and hence the community. The freehold of the building will belong to the current owner Mr Gerry Mulrine. THCL will lease the shop, and it has been agreed that we will have first refusal should the building or parts of it be sold. As part of the leaseholder agreement, Mr Mulrine will be responsible for the upkeep of the fabric of the building.

12. Who will run the shop ?

On a day-to-day basis the shop will be managed by a shop manager and the existing staff. The Post Office service will be provided by the existing trained postmistress and we will be seeking to provide training for others including volunteers.

To support this team there will be rota of volunteers helping in various roles as we develop the shop’s services.

The overall or strategic management and direction of the shop will be the responsibility of the Management Committee that members will have the opportunity to elect annually at the AGM.

13. Can I buy shares as a gift for someone ?

Yes, but because the shares are not transferable you cannot buy them and then pass them on. When shares are bought there is a legal contract made between the investor and THCL so we need to make arrangements to make sure that the person who is to receive the shares as a gift is able to personally agree to that contract.

That being said, if you just get in touch we can make sure things are done correctly and there would not be a problem.

14. Who is the Plunkett Foundation ?

The Plunkett Foundation is a registered charity set up in 1919 by Sir Horace Plunkett, who believed that rural communities didn’t have to wait for someone else to make life better for them; they had the potential to do it themselves – with a little help. Today Plunkett helps by supporting people, predominantly in rural areas, to set up and run life-changing community co-operatives and enterprises that are owned and run democratically by large numbers of people in their community.

15. Who are Power to Change ?

Power to Change is an independent charitable trust set up in January 2015 to grow community business across England. The trust has a £150 million endowment from the Big Lottery Fund, over ten years.

Community Share Offer coming soon ...

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Buying Shares

You can do this securely in one of four ways:
  • Register online for shares and pay with a debit/credit card.
  • Register online for shares and pay via electronic funds transfer.
  • Register online for shares and pay by cheque
  • Fill in the share form and send with a cheque.
For the first three options, please register first, then follow the instructions.

Register for Shares

Please fill in the form below if you are buying shares for the first time.

If you already have shares and want to buy more you don't need to register again, just go to the preferred payment option further down this page.

Buy Shares Securely with a Card

Please ensure you have registered for shares first.

We use Stripe as our payment processor. We do not retain any card information.

Please enter the number of shares in the form below and go to the checkout. Once payment is complete you will receive an email acknowledging payment and with your Share Certificate attached.

Amount Due:
Buy Shares by bank transfer

Please ensure you have registered for shares first.

Enter the number of shares in the form below, and send the share request. Then transfer payment to:

Bank: Co-operative Bank, Acc Name: The Harbertonford Community Limited, Sort Code: 08-92-99, Acc No: 65886421

Once payment is received we will send an email acknowledging receipt with your Share Certificate attached.

Amount Due:
After registering online, pay by cheque

Please fill in the form below. Once payment is received we will send an email acknowledging receipt with your Share Certificate attached.

Please send your cheque to:

THCL, Community Shares, Lyndhurst, Woodcourt Road, Harbertonford, TQ9 7TY, UK

Once payment is received we will send you a copy of your Share Certificate.

Amount Due:
Buy Shares by Post

Please download the THCL Community Share Offer document, print off and fill in the form at the end of the document. Then send with a cheque to:

THCL, Community Shares, Lyndhurst, Woodcourt Road, Harbertonford, TQ9 7TY, UK

Once payment is received we will send you a copy of your Share Certificate.

Thank you!