Steve Murrells, chief executive of the Co-op Group, is one of several UK co-operators to be named in the new year honours list, picking up a CBE for services to the food supply chain.
The honour reflect the efforts made by Mr Murrells to keep food supplies moving during the Covid-19 crisis – with a similar award going to former Asda chief Roger Burnley, who stepped down from his role last year.
“It is a great honour to receive this award, which reflects and acknowledges the journey our Co-op has been on in recent years,” said Mr Murrells.
“Every day we are making a positive difference to the lives of millions of Co-op members, customers and the communities in which they live.
“This award recognises the broader social impact a strong and vibrant Co-op can make within society, and the tireless support of 60,000 incredible Co-op colleagues in making this happen.”
Co-op Group chair Allan Leighton said: “This is a proud day for Steve and his family and recognises the outstanding contribution he has made to the Co-op and the wider retail and business sector over many years.
“He has played a vital role in the rebuild and renaissance of our business and he is a shining example that an acute financial sense can go hand in hand with a wider social conscience and purpose.”
Other co-operators named in the honours list include Mark Sesnan, co-founder and CEO of employee-owned Greenwich Leisure (GLL), Since 1993, GLL has grown from operating venues in Greenwich, then to London and the South East in the 2000s to its current status as the UK’s largest leisure social enterprise – a national organisation operating over 250 leisure facilities, 100 libraries and 10 children’s centres across England, Cardiff and Belfast.
Mr Sesnan, who was given an OBE for services to the leisure industry, particularly during the pandemic, when GLL offered free online exercise classes, said: “This is a great honour not only for me, but for my colleagues, for GLL, for the leisure industry and for the wider Social Enterprise movement within the UK.”
Trevor Lockhart, CEO of Fane Valley Co-op, was given an MBE for services to the agri food industry and economy of Northern Ireland. Fane Valley has interests including animal feed manufacturing, agricultural supplies, livestock identification and the provision of agronomy and forage services, operating across multiple locations in both the UK and Ireland.
A former chair and vice-chair of the CBI in Northern Ireland, Mr Lockhart began his career in the USA, before returning to Northern Ireland to work with the Ulster Farmers Union. He joined Fane Valley in 2004 and was named group CEO in 2007.
And Jim Hopley, former CEO of Channel Islands Co-op, recieved the MBE for his environmental and charity work on Jersey – including service for Jersey National Park and Jersey Cheshire Home, which cares for adults with physical disabilities.
Mr Hopley – who retired from Channel Islands Co-op in 2011 and is now a special advisor to Jersey Chamber of Commerce onsustainable business and the voluntary and community sector – told the BBC: “I really see it as a recognition of the causes that I’ve been fighting for for a considerable time now, and the support I’ve had in those battles from lots of other volunteers and colleagues, but also from officers, from paid officers in some areas – it’s been absolutely fantastic.
“The island has been fantastic to me… I’ve at least put something back.”
- This piece was amended on 5 January to include updated information on the current size and status of GLL