THE retail Co-op Movement has been named the UK's most ethical business, according to a study from GfK NOP, which considered how brands are ethically perceived by consumers across five countries.
The study found that UK consumers are the most ethically aware and view the treatment of employees, care for the environment and support for fair trade as core components to being an ethically driven organisation.
Commenting on the accolade, Co-operative Group Chief Executive Martin Beaumont said: "It is re-assuring to know that the wide ranging policies and developments we continue to implement are completely aligned with our being a consumer champion in ethics.
"The findings of our latest report into ethical spending in the UK demonstrates that ethical purchasing in 2005 was worth nearly £ 30 billion. The green pound is now becoming mainstream and we are determined to remain the natural choice for the growing band of ethical consumers."
Chris Davis, Managing Director, Brand Strategy for Gfk NOP, said: "Consumers are much more sensitive to how companies are behaving these days, and companies business practices are much more transparent than ever before. With ethical claims posted on company websites, an intense media spotlight and the growth of online discussion forums, companies really have nowhere to hide.
"The more astute brands such as the Co-op are being rewarded by customers for taking a proactive stance in adopting rigorous corporate social responsibility policies and promoting their ethical credentials in a clear, concise and straightforward manner."
Added Mr Davis: "The Co-op is not just well regarded because of its long tradition of ethical business practices, but also because it actively involves customers in the development and expression of ethical brand policies."