Having just reported an all-time record in gross sales, the Heart of England Co-operative is celebrating another success as its chief executive, Ali Kurji, has received a lifetime achievement award.
The accolade, awarded every year by Coventry Telegraph, was awarded to Mr Kurji, who was described as a well respected businessman, for “his hard work and dedication to the business”. The Telegraph said: “He has led the society through some of its most challenging times. Under his leadership the company has enjoyed ten consecutive years of profits.”
Said Mr Kurji: “I am delighted to win the Lifetime Achievement accolade from the Coventry Telegraph, especially so soon on the back of the Midlands Business Awards’ coveted Midlands Business Person of the Year title.
“Every day I am working towards building upon the society’s robust foundations which have enabled us not only to withstand the economic challenges, but to continue moving forward.”
Over the past five years Heart of England has invested over £21m across its food, non-food and funeral businesses. As part of this strategy, the society invested £1m in an electronic point-of-sale system to provide store managers with up-to-the-minute information about sales, identifying the most popular lines, trends, wastage and leakage.
In May, the society reported an all-time sales record of £95.4m throughout 2013, with profits representing 6.1% of turnover.
As well as investing in its divisions, the society is also placing a strong emphasis on staff training and community engagement. In 2012 and 2013 Heart of England has been supporting the Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance, with staff raising £46,000. They are now raising funds for The Myton Hospices charity, which runs three hospices in Coventry, Warwick and Rugby.
Mr Kurji thinks the success of the society is due to the collective effort made by staff members. “Of course all this would not be possible if it weren’t for my loyal staff. Not forgetting the founders of the society who provided us with the original vision more than 180 years ago to provide honest workers with quality goods at affordable prices,” he said.
“These values and ethics remain the lifeblood of our society today and we are proud to play out their vision and to continue building on it for the benefit of future generations.”