Dressed in full uniform, complete with ceremonial sword, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire paid a special visit to Southern Co-op yesterday to present the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise.
Praising the independent co-operative for its strong values, the Lord-Lieutenant Nigel Atkinson Esq said he was honoured to present the award on behalf of the Queen.
Colleagues and business partners of Southern Co-op gathered for the ceremony where they were presented with the award for Sustainable Development – one of the most prestigious awards for UK businesses.
Speaking at the event, the Lord-Lieutenant said: “This is a very special award presentation. Actually it is the first time I have presented a sustainable development award. This is a really difficult award to achieve.
“I had no idea Southern Co-op was formed in Portsmouth in 1873. At that time, it was set up in response to societal change. It was a business to help people help themselves. Sadly some of these issues still remain today and I’m pleased to see Southern Co-op is still here helping people.
“Of course there are other challenges now with the changing climate and declining wildlife and your response comes through very strongly. It’s a great business. I am very pleased to read your values and being customer focused is clearly in your DNA.”
The Lord-Lieutenant also praised the co-operative for continuing to achieve the Fair Tax mark and for the efforts of all of the company’s colleagues who made the award possible.
Colleagues at the event stretched across all of the co-operative’s areas of work from end of life services and retail to head office and coffee branches.
Other people in attendance were Deputy Lieutenant David Frere-Cook Esq, Debbie Tann – CEO of Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, Welcome Franchisee Richard Dance, Rowena Farr – Client Success Manager from Neighbourly, Nick Diamond – Membership Engagement Director at Business in the Community, and Paul Gonella from Strong Island Media. With thanks to Hill Farm Juice one of Southern Co-op’s Local Flavour partners.
Mark Smith, Chief Executive of Southern Co-op, said: “The principles we have around sustainable development go all the way through our business so it is important that we celebrate this success with colleagues throughout our co-operative.
“Our third party partnerships are also important to us on this journey as we always achieve a lot more when we work with others.
“This award is an opportunity for us to celebrate where we have got to on our sustainable journey. This award recognises organisations, like our own, who have a true and genuine commitment to being responsible and sustainable, and how it’s truly embedded in business strategy, governance, management, culture, and day to day decision making.”
Southern Co-op operates convenience food stores, coffee shops, funeral services, and crematoria/natural burial grounds in more than 300 locations across the south of England*.
It is currently working towards ambitious science-based targets to cut direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions from the business by 2030, supported by a climate action pathway of planned activity and an initial investment of £5.8m.
The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise is now in its 56th year with winning businesses able to use the esteemed Queen’s Awards Emblem for the next five years.
For more information, visit https://www.gov.uk/queens-awards-for-enterprise.
To view Southern Co-op’s long term strategy including its commitment to climate change and responsible business, visit https://southern.coop/how-we-do-it/sustainability.