East of England was named winner of the Asda Enterprise Growth Awards at the Business in the Community’s 18th annual Responsible Business Awards, which celebrate innovative ways that businesses in the UK and abroad are addressing social and environmental issues and transforming communities. The Enterprise Growth Award recognises businesses that engage, support and do business with small and medium enterprises to drive local economic growth.
East of England is the largest independent retailer in East Anglia, with over 200 branches across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, running food retail, funeral, travel, pharmacy, post offices, opticians and investment property businesses. Over the last eight years it has focused on regional enterprises through its award-winning Sourced Locally scheme.
Sourced Locally was created to enable the society to source products and develop sustainable partnerships with local producers across the region, while reconnecting customers with food provenance and supporting local enterprise.
Since it began, the initiative has ploughed £34 million back into local communities through payments to suppliers; there are now over 2,700 products available in the range.
“We celebrate local food in our stores every day bringing locally produced food and drink direct from over 140 farmers and producers to the shelves of our stores,” said Roger Grosvenor, executive officer – retail at the society.
“We’ve saved food miles, cut down on waste, encouraged local suppliers to work together, launched ‘Deli to Go’ which offers 100% locally supplied deli products and created new outlets for local businesses.
“We believe every encouragement should be given to those who work so hard and with such passion and dedication to bring great tasting food and drink to our tables.”
Tebay and Gloucester Services received the Samworth Brothers Rural Action Award.
Located between junctions 11a and 12 of the M5, Gloucester Services was developed in partnership between the Westmorland Family business and the Gloucester Gateway Trust (GGT), a co-operative of local organisations, to create a landscaped site offering quality meals and a large local farm shop.
The project was born in 2002 after an outbreak of Q fever, a livestock disease which can also affect humans, hit tourism.
“We wanted something to support rural communities that had really suffered,” said Mark Gale, from GGT, speaking at Future Co-ops 2015.
“The trust doesn’t own the site and reinvests its revenue share locally rather than paying dividends. We work with 130 local suppliers and we are proud of that. It makes a real difference to them.”
The project initially created 300 local jobs, rising to 550, with a third of staff previously unemployed or not working for a long period of time.
A full list of winners at the event can be found here.