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Support for rural economy nets East of England Co-operative Society a national award

The East of England Co-operative Society has been recognised for its commitment to supporting the regional economy by being awarded a Business in the Community award at a ceremony attended by the Prime Minister David Cameron this week.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Support for rural economy nets East of England Co-operative Society a national award

The East of England Co-operative Society has been recognised for its commitment to supporting the regional economy by being awarded a Business in the Community award at a ceremony attended by the Prime Minister David Cameron this week.

Having been put through to the finals after winning the regional Dairy Crest Rural Action Award in the 2013 Responsible Business Awards, the East of England Co-operative Society beat three other national finalists to win the Business in the Community's Rural Action Award.

The retailer was presented with the award in recognition of its Sourced Locally initiative at an event at the Royal Albert Hall which was hosted by celebrities Joanna Lumley and James Corden.

Launched in 2007, the Sourced Locally programme now supports over 135 local suppliers and stocks over 2,000 different local products, delivered direct to store from fields and businesses across the region.

The judges said they were impressed by the “vision, passion, and commercial acumen” of the project. Mike Sheldon, group milk procurement director at Dairy Crest and chair of the judging panel, added: “It has created a fantastic viable society that has had a genuine positive impact for local farm businesses, and in turn the local community. The simplicity of the programme is undeniable, and the judges would love to see it rolled out across the whole co-operative movement.”

The Sourced Locally programme has so far invested over £20 million back into the local economy across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, and created over 100 new jobs.

Kevin Warden, local sourcing manager at the East of England Co-operative Society, said: “We are proud to source local products which are truly local. We have saved food miles, encouraged local suppliers to work together and provided customers with the range of quality local produce at the right price.”

The judges also recognised the impact of the programme on the East of England Co-operative Society’s brand, positioning it as the region’s leading ethical responsible retailer.

Amanda Long, executive officer for membership, marketing and media at the East of England Co-operative Society, said: “The success of this programme just keeps growing and we are delighted that it has been recognised on a national level. We are keeping the pound local and giving the community the chance to buy products which are produced and grown in this area.”

The Responsible Business Awards celebrate UK companies that make a tangible difference to communities by tackling key social and environmental issues and integrating responsible behaviour into their business.

Other winners on the evening included Jaguar Land Rover, Marks & Spencer, The Body Shop and B&Q.

Commenting on the awards, Prime Minister David Cameron said: “It’s a real pleasure to celebrate the work of so any of our leading businesses who are helping to make our country a better place.”

Stephen Howard, chief executive, Business in the Community, added: “The Responsible Business Awards look beyond the headlines to unearth those companies making a genuine difference and truly creating change by living their values. Award winning companies are drawn from a range of sectors, but what they share is an understanding of the critical importance of responsible leadership, a willingness to boldly re-imagine what traditional business practice looks like and a genuine commitment to driving innovative solutions to some of society’s most pressing issues.”

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