Defra Minister Jo Churchill has praised the pioneering work of the UK’s leading surplus redistribution organisation, Company Shop Group, following a visit to its headquarters in Barnsley, South Yorkshire.
Ms Churchill’s visit focused on the Group’s unique redistribution model which prevents significant volumes of food and products from needlessly going to waste by purchasing surplus from the FMCG supply chain and redistributing it across its network of stores, open to frontline workers and those most in need.
The social, economic and environmental impact of the Group is bolstered by its renowned social enterprise, Community Shop, which alongside providing food access also delivers life-changing personal development support.
The Minister met with Company Shop Group’s Managing Director Steph McGinty and Biffa’s Chief Executive Officer, Michael Topham, to learn more about the unmatched support the Group delivers to the retail and manufacturing industry, and its success in using surplus redistribution as a sustainable asset for business, a benefit for the planet, and a force for good in the communities it serves.
As part of the visit, Ms Churchill was given a tour of the Group’s 82,000 sq. ft distribution centre – where over 80 million surplus items are handled each year – to understand the business’ scale, infrastructure and expert capabilities. Similarly, the Minister was able to see first-hand how shopping at one of the Group’s 23 stores helps to stretch family budgets, with a tour of the Wentworth superstore.
The Minister was also provided with an update on the positive social, economic and environmental impact being delivered as a result of the Group’s Harnessing Harder to Reach Surplus programme, which was established as a result of Defra selecting the Group as one of only four organisations to help the efforts to reduce barriers to redistribution and unnecessary waste.
The programme has since led to the creation of the Group’s award-winning Luminary Programme, now in its second year, which aims to inspire and empower industry leaders to embed sustainable and intelligent surplus solutions into their own operations – creating a legacy which lasts way beyond the lifetime of the initial fund.
The visit follows a significant period of expansion for the Group, supported by its partnership with Biffa, which saw it open a further eleven stores across 2020 and 2021 alone including in Darlington, Dudley, Leicester, Southampton and Yardley.
Resources and Waste Minister Jo Churchill said:
“I was inspired to see the great work being done by Company Shop Group to tackle needless food waste in our society. As a nation, we waste enough food to fill Wembley Stadium eight times every year, squandering precious resources and causing substantial and unnecessary carbon emissions.
“That is why this Government has made a world leading commitment to halve food waste by the end of the decade, and innovative redistributors such as Company Shop Group will be vital in helping us meet that goal.”
Steph McGinty, Managing Director of Company Shop Group said:
“It was a pleasure to host the Minister at our headquarters here in Barnsley, as part of our long-standing and collaborative working relationship with the Department.
“We were pleased to be able to show Ms Churchill first-hand the vital work we are doing to deliver transformational social, economic and environment benefits for the industry and in communities across the UK.
“As well as having the opportunity to showcase the ongoing success of our Defra-backed Luminary Programme, we were also able to share with the Minister the various ways in which the Group is standing ready and expertly placed to work with the Government and to support the industry to maximise the various opportunities on the horizon, including mandatory food waste reporting, which will help to deliver a step-change in the ongoing food waste reduction efforts.”
Commenting on the visit, Michael Topham, Chief Executive Officer of Biffa, said:
“Having the Minister visit Company Shop Group’s headquarters provided an excellent opportunity for us to demonstrate the ongoing success of our partnership, as we work together to offer sustainable waste management solutions to the industry, whilst making a meaningful contribution to society.”