Today, (5 January 2012) Waitrose MD, Mark Price, met Prime Minister David Cameron to receive a Big Society Award in recognition of the supermarket's Community Matters1 scheme. At the meeting, the retailer announced that, through the scheme to-date, £10 million of its profits have been donated to more than 30,000 good causes across the UK and Channel Islands.
The Prime Minister also welcomed the supermarket's announcement to increase its support for local communities, and in particular to help youngsters get into work.
Launching in February, its Partner Volunteering2 scheme will see thousands of Waitrose Partners, as all employees are called, donating time to local charities and good causes over the course of the year - with every Waitrose branch volunteering for an average of 250 hours. Following successful trials, the scheme will be rolled out across the business, meaning a total of 75,000 hours will be spent in local communities in 2012.
The second new initiative to rollout in 2012 will offer, through The Prince's Trust 'Get into'3 programme, a series of two-week work placements to youngsters who are not in education or employment. The supermarket will offer nearly 100 placements across its distribution centres, head office and shops this year.
This follows a successful trial late last year at its Aylesford distribution centre in Kent, which resulted in five of the twelve candidates being offered a full-time job with Waitrose and the other seven finding full-time roles at other companies within a few weeks of completing the scheme.
Each placement will carry independent accreditation from the ASDAN (Award Scheme Development and Accreditation Network). This will add tangible value to the candidates' experience, with the aim of helping them secure future employment4.
Says Prime Minister David Cameron: 'The Big Society Awards are all about recognising the work that people like Waitrose are doing to bring about what I care about most: a bigger, stronger society. And Community Matters is helping to do exactly that.
'Those green tokens have already seen £10 Million donated to more than 30 thousand local good causes. I've heard first-hand this morning from some of the charities who have benefitted - they are the greatest testament to the difference this scheme makes.
'I would like to congratulate Waitrose staff around the country for the contribution they have already made to their local communities and I wish them every success with their new employee volunteering, work placement and apprenticeship programmes over the coming year.'
Says Mark Price, Managing Director, Waitrose: 'It is more important than ever that we play an active role in supporting and safeguarding the future of the areas we trade in and the people who live there. It's also essential that, in these difficult economic times, we give young people opportunities to develop their careers - they are the future of our business and our industry.
'Our Partner Volunteering initiative, apprenticeship schemes and work with The Prince's Trust are great ways for our Partners to give something back to their communities - they will also provide invaluable experience to our Partners, helping them learn new skills which they can apply in their own lives.'
Finally, as previously announced, in the second half of the year, the John Lewis Partnership will formally launch a 12-month apprenticeship scheme to give young people an insight into the workings of the business. The work based training programmes will give apprentices many of the skills they need for their chosen career, with each receiving a Level 2 Retail Apprenticeship qualification from City and Guilds at the end of the 12 months.
The scheme is currently being trialled by 41 16-24 year olds in 13 Waitrose branches5, with many choosing this route as an alternative to traditional further education - and Waitrose plans to offer a further 200 placements in the autumn.
All three initiatives be key in helping Waitrose deliver its personnel priorities for 2012 including inclusivity of Partners and involvement in the community. They form part of the practical implementation of 'Treating People Fairly' - one of the four pillars of 'The Waitrose Way' which is the philosophy that encompasses the way Waitrose does, and has always done things.