It is the fourth year running that the society has taken the title, but the judges said the Group was a clear winner and “still streets ahead” in the responsible retailing stakes.
The Co-operative, which raised the bar further last month with the launch of its groundbreaking Ethical Operating Plan, beat Asda, B & Q, Marks and Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco to take the coveted “green” award.
The judges were impressed by the depth of The Co-operative’s commitment to being a responsible business and the scope of its initiatives, from inspiring young people to tackling global poverty through its support for Fairtrade.
Chief Executive Peter Marks commented: “The Retail Week Awards recognise the very best in the highly competitive UK retailing industry, not just the grocery sector, so to win this particular accolade four years in succession is an incredible achievement.
“However, as the launch of The Co-operative Ethical Plan demonstrates, we are not resting on our laurels, and this award recognises the hard work and commitment of colleagues across the Group in delivering our Co-operative difference and campaigning for what we believe in, supported by our members and customers.”
Meanwhile the Group’s ethical credentials have been underlined by the news that the society has been recognised as one of the world’s ‘most ethical companies’ — and has also picked up an award for being a champion of Fairtrade wine.
Over 4,000 businesses from 22 countries have been evaluated by the US-based international think tank Ethisphere Institute and just 110 were recognised as the ‘most ethical.’ The Co-operative was one of just four food retailers in the world to be so recognised and the only UK based food retailer.
The list of the 2011 world’s most ethical companies is available on Ethisphere’s website (s.coop/ykf), which also details the methodology behind the findings.
And Group wine buyer Maria Elener has won the Fairhills Ethical Person of the Year accolade at the annual Drinks Business Green Awards.
Ms Elener, who has responsibility for buying all CRTG Fairtrade wines, was honoured for her hard work and dedication in sourcing Fairtrade wines from developing countries, while having an active role in setting up projects that benefit the growers and winemakers in these regions. Co-op stores have the biggest range of Fairtrade wines in the UK.