Prestigious awards for The Co-operative Group

April 03, 2009
The Co-operative Group has scooped two titles at the prestigious Retail Week Awards, including being named Responsible Retailer of the Year for the second year in succession.

It also won the Product Innovation of the Year category, for its “free from” petfood range, at the annual awards which celebrate excellence in the retail industry.

The Co-operative Group was named Responsible Retailer of the Year ahead of other shortlisted businesses including Marks and Spencer, Asda and Morrisons.

The Co-operative Group was named Responsible Retailer of the Year for the second year running by Retail Week.  Debbie Robinson, from The Co-operative Food, who picked up the award on behalf of the Group, is pictured with sponsor Chris Wakerley from Boxwood (right) and TV personality Jimmy Carr.

The Co-operative’s market-leading "free from" petfood range picked up the Retail Week Product Innovation of the Year Award. John Dunne (second left) and Melissa Webb (second right) from The Co-operative Food are pictured receiving the award from Charlotte Cowell, Editor of Spring Fair International, and TV personality Jimmy Carr.

Judges praised The Co-operative Group, saying it “continues to set the pace” in corporate social responsibility.

They said: “Highlights included a 40% increase in Fairtrade sales over the past year, 99% of energy coming from renewable sources, a reduction in packaging waste and higher animal welfare standards, including the banning of eggs from caged hens.

“They continue innovating and get better and better. It’s in their culture – not a marketing gimmick – and they come at it from a humble point of view, not being holier than thou about it.”

The Group also won the Product Innovation of the Year award for its “free from” petfood range. The own-brand petfood, containing no artificial additives, was developed following research which showed that animal welfare was a key concern for customers, and that pet owners wanted to feed their animals with nutritious products offering a variety of flavours and textures.

The judges said: “The Co-operative has been using its slogan ‘Good with Food’ widely over the past year, but it’s a commitment which extends to four-legged as well as two-legged customers.

“The judges were impressed by how the buying team at The Co-operative threw themselves into the range, even using their own pets in the marketing and PR campaign.”

Among them was Bert, a cat owned by The Co-operative’s Category Development Manager for Grocery, Melissa Webb. Melissa collected the award at the London ceremony.

The Co-operative “free from” petfood won the award ahead of shortlisted products from Boots, Waitrose and John Lewis.

Debbie Robinson, The Co-operative’s Director of Food Retail Marketing, who collected the Responsible Retailer award on behalf of the Group, said: “We are pleased, and very proud, to win two such prestigious awards. The high calibre of the shortlists reflect the quality needed to earn these accolades, and they reflect the hard work of so many people at The Co-operative Group.”