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Britain’s First ‘Social Supermarket’ Has Opened In Yorkshire

December 10, 2013

What do you think about this? Would you shop at a similar store in your area?

BRITAIN’S first “social supermarket” opens for business in Yorkshire today to help families struggling to feed themselves.

The pioneering Community Shop will offer affordable food products to people living in a specific postcode and in receipt of welfare support. They will be eligible for discounts of up to 70 per cent on surplus goods.

The scheme is being led by social entrepreneur Sarah Dunwell and has won the backing of some of the UK’s largest retailers and manufacturers, including Asda and Morrisons.

The pilot store is in Goldthorpe, the former mining village in South Yorkshire.

Community Shop is a subsidiary of Company Shop, the UK’s largest commercial redistributor of surplus food and goods.

Ms Dunwell, the former chief executive of Leeds-based Create, said: “With many families facing tough times in Barnsley, Company Shop wanted to do more to match surplus stock with people who really need it. So I was delighted to join the team to help develop and deliver the UK’s first social supermarket.

“Industry surplus is hard to avoid, but what Community
Shop shows is that if we all work together we can make sure that surplus food delivers lasting social good.

“We are all very proud to launch Community Shop today and we look forward to partnering with the retail industry to make this a success during the pilot phase and beyond.”

Ms Dunwell’s work at Create won praise from many quarters, not least Prime Minister David Cameron, but the catering firm ran into financial difficulties after a financial backer withdrew support. It was sold earlier this year.

Community Shop’s food will be within date and wholesome, said a spokesman.

He added that the business holds the highest food safety accreditation standards.

The spokesman said surpluses are created in the supply chain by forecasting errors, seasonal promotions and packaging faults.

The social supermarket model is well established in Europe, with around 1,000 stores concentrated in France and Austria, he added.

Shoppers will not only get access to cheaper food, but will also be offered programmes of tailored support, including debt advice, cookery skills, home budgeting and CV writing to provide members with “a route back to mainstream shopping”, said the spokesman.

Company Shop, which had a turnover of £19.5m turnover last year, hopes to open stores in London and further afield next year if the pilot proves successful.

The project has attracted heavyweight backing, including Andy Clarke, president and chief executive of Leeds-based Asda. He is also chairman of investment agency Leeds and Partners, where Ms Dunwell is a non-executive director.

Mr Clarke said: “Despite our continued investment in lowering the price of everyday essentials, sadly there are still people in society living in food poverty.

“Community Shop is a retail industry response to this serious social problem.

“As one of the UK’s largest retailers, we have a crucial part to play in supporting those families who need us at difficult times through Community Shop.”

Martyn Jones, corporate services director at Bradford-based Morrisons, added: “Morrisons is delighted to support Community Shop for the step change in food redistribution that it will offer.

“It is backed by an independent infrastructure and people with industry expertise. What’s so appealing about this project is that it provides a new, readily identifiable store outlet that can reach people who really need some support.”

Tesco, Ocado, The Co-operative Food, Marks & Spencer, Mondelez International, Tetley, Muller and Young’s are also supporting the Community Shop by diverting surplus to the pilot.

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