Ali Kurji, Chief Executive of the Heart of England Co-operative Society

Monday, October 31st, 2022

The Heart of England Co-operative Society has introduced a raft of emergency measures to help customers and employees during the cost of living crisis.

Chief Executive Ali Kurji says people come before profits and he is unaware of any other similar support package ‘which comes close to what we are offering.’

In a boost for thousands of shoppers across the Society’s 37 food stores, members’ rewards have been increased from two to three per cent until March 25.

Mr Kurji said: “Our rewards scheme is already generous but in these unprecedented times we felt it was important to give our customers an even bigger return on what they spend with us.

“As a Co-operative we are owned by our members who are also our customers. They pay £1 to have a stake in our business. Every time they make a purchase, they accrue credit to use at a later date in one of our food stores. We’re delighted to be increasing the amount they will receive.”

The Society has also brought in a comprehensive range of further benefits for nearly 800 people employed in its food and funeral divisions, as well as the head office in Foleshill. Discounts on food shopping have been doubled to 20 per cent. A sponsored breakfast club is providing free cereal, milk and bread. Sanitary products are also being given away and staff can buy unsold bakery and hot food for just 10p.

Every month five employees will be randomly chosen to receive £100 on their reward cards.  Internal food banks have been set up too for items to be donated or swapped. To kick off this initiative the Heart of England Co-op is donating goods worth £50 at its various sites.

Employees have been sent an information pack containing advice on how to cope during the crisis. Those who need support can also reach out on a dedicated helpline.

“These benefits have clearly come at a huge expense to the Society and at a time when trading conditions are exceptionally difficult,” added Mr Kurji.

“High inflation means there are pressures on our cost base on a scale we have never experienced in recent living memory. However, extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures and we have taken this action because social responsibility is in our DNA.