Company Shop shines new light on surplus management, with launch of pioneering Luminary Programme

Cold Chain Federation member Company Shop Group, the UK’s leading redistributor of surplus stock, has today announced the launch of its trailblazing Luminary Programme, a first of its kind mentoring programme for industry leaders which seeks to deliver a step change in intelligent surplus management, and reduce unnecessary waste.

Partnering with Amazon, Bakkavor, Coca-Cola European Partners, Greencore, M&S, Mars, Morrisons, Nestlé, Nomad Foods, Premier Foods, Samworth Brothers, Unilever and Upfield, the Luminary Programme will mentor teams of future leaders and rising stars across the industry, all committed to delivering the best in sustainable and social business practices.

Founded over 50 years ago, Company Shop Group is the home of Company Shop stores and the award-winning social enterprise Community Shop, the UK’s first social supermarket chain. Serving customers in the UK supply chain, key workers and some of the UK’s most deprived communities, Company Shop Group exists to redefine surplus and release its full commercial, environmental and social value.

In 2019, the business was one of only four organisations to be selected by DEFRA to receive ‘game-changing’ funding to significantly reduce the amount of food unnecessarily going to waste in England. Taking advantage of its infrastructure, scale and expert capabilities, Company Shop Group embarked upon the ambitious challenge of focusing on the surplus which is hardest to reach – stock which requires expert intervention and is often considered too challenging to redistribute.

The Programme has been created by Company Shop’s expert team, and has invited visionary thinkers from likeminded businesses to learn together and share ideas, and to develop new ways to inspire and influence others. Its collaborative nature is designed to help participants forge networks and partnerships that will last for years to come.

The Programme combines a mixture of toolkits, activities and mentoring, giving participants the skills and confidence they need to be the driving force for change within their own organisation. It will be delivered predominantly online, using downloadable resources and activities. Meetings with mentors also form part of the learning experience, with a personal visit to the participant’s workplace to help tailor their individual programme.

Every business taking part in the Programme will be asked to nominate a Senior Sponsor who supports the participant throughout the Programme, ensuring they are able to drive forward sustainable change which is good for their business, for the planet and for communities.

John Marren, Founder and Chairman of Company Shop Group said:

“From the first day of our Defra-backed Harnessing Harder to Reach Surplus project, we knew we wanted to deliver long term solutions not short-term fixes. For us, using the funding to acquire more stock and redistribute it to thousands of families through Community Shop was great – but we also wanted to do much more. We wanted this funding to create a long-term sustainable change in the UK food industry, so the impact could continue for years to come.  Our Luminary Programme is a great example of what we have achieved”.

Marcus Gover, CEO WRAP, said “The Luminary Programme has the potential to deliver long lasting behaviour change through encouraging more businesses and more sites to focus on the root causes of food surplus and waste. Company Shop is a Courtauld 2025 signatory and supporter of the UK Food Waste Reduction Roadmap, and this is exactly the kind of innovative thinking and action that will help us collectively achieve our goal to halve food waste in the UK.”

Government Food Waste Champion, Ben Elliot said:

“We all need to play our part in tackling unnecessary food waste in the UK. The Luminary Programme is exactly the sort of creative thinking and industry collaboration needed to generate a step-change in sustainable practices and to move beyond the status quo.

“I applaud the work of Company Shop Group and look forward to seeing how they will educate and inspire organisations and businesses across our industry.”

Peter Andrews, Head of Sustainability, BRC said “For many years, retailers have been taking action to tackle climate change and eliminate food and textile waste by adopting circular economy principles and utilising redistribution networks across the UK. As we emerge from the coronavirus crisis, more retailers are keen to explore better ways to safeguard our environment and meet their customer needs and we’re pleased to be working with Company Shop as one of our Sustainability Partners to address these challenges.” 

Andy Griffiths, Head of Value Chain Sustainability, Nestlé UK Ltd said “As the impacts of Covid 19 are felt across the country, more and more families are struggling with access to affordable, nutritious food. To help deliver sustainable solutions to this challenge, it is crucial that organisations find ever more effective ways to collaborate. The Luminary Programme is a trailblazing example of bringing together future leaders across the food sector, to increase the understanding of these challenges and help identify and leverage new opportunities in this space.”

Lee Haughton, Group Environmental Manager, Premier Foods said We have colleagues who aspire to develop themselves and help our business to continually improve, and for these colleagues the Luminary Programme fits perfectly.  This comes at exactly the right time for us, as the focus on the food industry in 2020 to increase redistribution of surplus is keener than ever.  We have been members of Champions 12.3 and WRAP’s Food Waste Reduction Roadmap for three years now, and having Luminaries within our business is a perfect example of how we are fulfilling the ‘Act’ part of ‘Target, Measure, Act’.”

Carmel Mcquaid, Head of Sustainable Business, M&S said “M&S are delighted to be supporting the first cohort of the Luminary programme. As a long-standing supporter of Company Shop, we are keen to continue this collaboration, working together to explore more ways of reducing waste through increased redistribution. Rob’s participation in this programme demonstrates our commitment to ensuring nothing goes to waste across all areas of our operations and we look forward to the benefits that an industry-wide approach can achieve”.

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