There was a discussion a while ago where (I think) Sebastian suggested buyers for fine flavoured cocoa beans should consider pooling their buying resources to enable container load purchases to be made. Ie., Bar Maker A can't afford a full container, but partnering up with B, C & D, together they can buy a container load of beans from a growers co-op.
What about extending this a bit further: say Bean-to-Bar Makers A, B, C & D get together and are based relatively close to each other. They buy their beans in bulk together (cheaper beans). Once the beans are delivered they each go off and interpret the beans in their own way, on their own premises, and package in their own packaging and with their own brandname. But then have a co-op retail store where bars from A, B, C & D are all sold together and the retail store is owned by Bar Maker A, B, C & D.
The advantages seem to be better buying power (and potentially better access to beans given larger purchase quantities), each Bar Maker keeps their individuality when it comes to making chocolate and there are better economies of scale on the retail side (ie., each only pays 1/4 rent, marketing, electricity, wages to retail staff, website etc). You could even make a marketing point that each Bar Maker has their own interpretation of the same beans.
So I wonder why it hasn't been done before? Or has it been tried before/is it currently being done? Are the logistics of organising multiple business partners who have their own bar making factories just too hard? Or is it too hard to get agreement on a retail store front? - I wouldn't have thought so, but I've never tried to do it. Or is retail of bean-to-bar just too hard and most Bar Makers are aiming for wholesale clients?
Anyway, I am interested to hear what others think . . . it seems to be one way to consolidate some of the smaller parts of the market and benefit from economies of scale, but allow each Bar Maker to keep their individuality.
Some wineries do this. Glen Ewin Estate here in Adelaide where the cellar door represents several wineries. The wineries may even use same grapes but would be a hard job to tell.