Heart of England Co-op has introduced a number of measures as part of a ‘cost of living action plan’ to support its customers and staff through economic hardship.
Certain benefits have been increased for Heart of England’s nearly 800 staff members across its food and funeral divisions, as well as head office staff. The benefits include a doubling of in-store staff discount to 20%, free sanitary products and a scheme where employees can buy unsold bakery and hot food items for 10p.
The retail society is also sponsoring a breakfast club providing free cereal, milk and bread, as well as setting up internal food banks where people can donate or swap items.
Advice on how to cope with the cost of living crisis is being shared with staff, who also have access to a dedicated helpline.
Heart of England has also announced support for its customers, including an increase in members’ rewards from two to three percent until next March across its 37 food stores.
As a member-owned co-operative, customers can pay £1 to have a stake in the business, and accrue credit through their purchases via members’ rewards.
Chief executive Ali Kurji said Heart of England is “delighted” to be increasing the member rewards, adding: “Our rewards scheme is already generous but in these unprecedented times we felt it was important to give our customers an even bigger return on what they spend with us.”
The rising cost of food and energy over recent months has prompted a number of co-operatives to extend different forms of help to its staff and customers, many of them citing their co-operative values as motivation for the support being offered.
Kurji said that implementing these measures has come at “a huge expense” to Heart of England, “at a time when trading conditions are exceptionally difficult.”
“High inflation means there are pressures on our cost base on a scale we have never experienced in recent living memory. However, extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures and we have taken this action because social responsibility is in our DNA.”