2013-07-05  facebooktwitterrss
Support for Rural Economy Scoops National Award for the Co-op

The East of England Co-operative Society has been recognised for its commitment to supporting the regional economy by being awarded a ‘Business in the Community’ award at a ceremony attended by the Prime Minister David Cameron on Tuesday 2nd July.

Having already secured the regional Dairy Crest Rural Action Award in the 2013 Responsible Business Awards, run by Business in the Community, the East of England Co-operative Society was put through to the national awards. The event was held at the Royal Albert Hall and hosted by celebrities Joanna Lumley and James Corden.

East of England Co-op Award

(L-R) James Corden, Kevin Warden, Local Sourcing Manager at the East of England Co-operative Society, Clive Mann, Vice-President at the East of England Co-operative, Amanda Long, Executive Officer – Membership, Marketing and Media at the East of England Co-operative Society, Stephen Howard, Chief Executive of Business in the Community, Joanna Lumley and Mike Sheldon, Group Milk Procurement Director, Dairy Crest Group and chair of the judging panel

The East of England Co-operative Society beat three other national finalists to win the Rural Action Award, which celebrates and showcases the companies that help to support and maintain vibrant and sustainable rural economies. It was presented with the award in recognition of its Sourced Locally initiative.

The Sourced Locally programme has grown year on year since it was launched in 2007. It now supports over 135 local suppliers and stocks over 2,000 different local products, delivered direct to store from fields and businesses across the region.

The judges said they had been won over by the vision, passion, and commercial acumen of the project. Mike Sheldon, Group Milk Procurement Director, Diary Crest Group and Chair of the judging panel, added: “It has created a fantastic viable society that has had a genuine positive impact for local farm businesses, and in turn the local community. The simplicity of the programme is undeniable, and the judges would love to see it rolled out across the whole co-operative movement.”

The Sourced Locally programme has so far invested over £20m back into the local economy across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, created over 100 new jobs and supported many more.

Kevin Warden, Local Sourcing Manager at the East of England Co-operative Society, said: “We are proud to source local products which are truly local. We have saved food miles, encouraged local suppliers to work together and provided customers with the range of quality local produce at the right price.”

The judges also recognised the impact of the programme on the East of England Co-operative Society’s brand, positioning it as the region’s leading ethical responsible retailer.

Amanda Long, Executive Officer – Membership, Marketing and Media at the East of England Co-operative Society, said: “The success of this programme just keeps growing and we are delighted that it has been recognised on a national level. We are keeping the pound local and giving the community the chance to buy products which are produced and grown in this area.”

The Responsible Business Awards celebrate the powerful and positive role of business in society, and those UK businesses that are making a tangible difference, transforming communities through tackling key social and environmental issues, and transforming their business by integrating responsible behaviour.

Other winners on the evening included Jaguar Land Rover, Marks and Spencer, The Body Shop and B&Q.

Commenting on the awards, Prime Minister David Cameron said: “It’s a real pleasure to celebrate the work of so any of our leading businesses who are helping to make our country a better place.”

Stephen Howard, Chief Executive, Business in the Community, added: “The Responsible Business Awards look beyond the headlines to unearth those companies making a genuine difference and truly creating change by living their values. Award winning companies are drawn from a range of sectors, but what they share is an understanding of the critical importance of responsible leadership, a willingness to boldly re-imagine what traditional business practice looks like and a genuine commitment to driving innovative solutions to some of society’s most pressing issues.”

East of England Co-op

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