Honiton Nub News aims to support our community, promoting shops, businesses, charities, clubs and sports groups. We will be profiling some of these businesses and organisations regularly in a feature called 'Up Close in Honiton'
First, we’re chatting to Gary McLoughlin, manager at Co-op’s Honiton store, who says it’s great to work for a company that shares his own values and principles. Which could be why he’s stayed for so long – Gary started working for the Co-op 30 years ago.
He said: “The Co-op always puts people first, customers and colleagues. Yes, profit is nice, but having a happy, engaged team, and giving customers what they want and/or believe in, is more important to the Co-op than profit.
“It’s also nice to know that the people who benefit from the profit are the Co-op Members, people who shop in here every day or week.”
The Co-op Membership scheme costs just £1 to join, and members get special deals and personalised offers across the Co-op family of businesses. In addition, when Co-op Members buy selected Co-op branded products and services, the Co-op gives 2p for every pound spent to local communities. This is split between the Local Community Fund and the Community Partnerships Fund. Members choose the local causes they’d like to support.
Gary is very pleased to work for a company with such a strong ethical sense. He said: “The Co-op prides itself on its values and principles, and is normally the first supermarket to lead the way on the 'correct' way to trade, i.e. Fairtrade products, no animal testing, all meat being British, removing packaging, etc. It wants to make a difference to the world we live in, and make the planet a better place, that means a lot to me.
“We've just launched a new recycling system nationally, which is amazing, you may have seen the TV advert – basically you can now recycle all soft plastics and packing in every Co-op across the country.
“We've also committed to removing all unnecessary packaging from all our own-label products by the end of 2022. To give you an example, we don't sell Co-op butter at the moment, because the manufacturer won't pack it in a recyclable wrapper! It will be back soon, though.”
Gary started working for the Co-op in 1991, in Portsmouth, as a Store Manager Trainee, for an independent Society that is now Southern Co-op. He moved across to what was then CRS (Cooperative Retail Society), which eventually merged with CWS (Cooperative Wholesale Society) to form the Co-op as it is today.
He said: “I moved to the West Country 15 years ago, and still love it here, everything is a much slower pace than the south-east, and people are always friendly.”
Putting something back into that friendly Honiton community is an important part of the job for Gary – and one that has been more challenging during the Covid pandemic, because of the restrictions on group activities. But of course, this was also a time when the Local Community Fund came into its own, providing funds to groups including Honiton Carers Support who were supporting people through an incredibly difficult time. Last year the Co-op also produced an e-book of lockdown stories from Honiton that highlighted ‘the power of community’.
The local causes Honiton Co-op has supported in its latest round of funding are TRIP Community Transport, Honiton Primary School PTFA and Devon Freewheelers.
Gary said it’s the Co-op’s principle of ‘putting the right people first’ that makes his work so satisfying: “There are many parts of the job I enjoy, mainly the daily interaction with customers - there are certainly some characters that use the store!
“But I also like to see colleagues given the opportunity to learn, develop, and progress; the Co-op is a great believer in promotion from within.”
Co-op membership helps support your local community, with great rewards for you too. When you buy selected Co-op branded products and services, 2p for every pound spent goes to you and we’ll give the same to local communities.
Join us today online at www.coop.co.uk/membership or in-store.
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