Southern Co-op awarded Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Sustainable Development

Mark Smith and Gemma Lacey celebrate award

An independent co-operative, which operates retail, funeral and coffee services across the south of England, has been recognised with one of the most prestigious awards for UK businesses – the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise.

Southern Co-op is one of only 31 organisations nationally to be recognised with the award under the category Sustainable Development. Her Majesty The Queen personally approves the winners for the award.

Organisers of the award stated: “It has been an exceptionally hard few years for businesses and this achievement is testament to the resilience you and your staff have shown through these unprecedented times.

“Southern Co-op is awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Sustainable Development because it can clearly demonstrate that is delivering on its original purpose to put purpose before profit.”

The awards celebrate the success of exciting and innovative businesses which are leading the way with pioneering products or services, delivering impressive social mobility programmes or showing their commitment to excellent sustainable development practices.

Mark Smith, Southern Co-op’s Chief Executive, said: “We are honoured to have been awarded this significant and well-respected title. We are committed to being a responsible and sustainable business, playing our part in creating a fairer society and sustainable world. Our colleagues work hard to realise this goal across every aspect of our business and this award recognises not only the progress we’ve made but the high standards to which they work. 

“In our entry, we explained that Southern Co-op was originally set up nearly 150 years ago in response to the societal challenges of that time – exploitation, inequality and poverty.

“Many of these challenges sadly still exist today, alongside environmental challenges like climate change, declining natural resources and threatened wildlife/habitats. We all need to continue working together to tackle these issues and truly make a difference to our futures.”

Southern Co-op operates convenience food stores, coffee shops, funeral services, and crematoria/natural burial grounds in more than 300 locations across the south of England*.

It is currently working towards ambitious science based targets to cut direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions from the business by 2030, supported by a climate action pathway of planned activity and an initial investment of £5.8m.

Gemma Lacey, Southern Co-op’s Director for Sustainability and Communications, said: “The information and evidence needed for this award was extensive but it also made us reflect on just how far we have come and the progress we’ve made in making our business sustainable.

“From reducing energy usage and supporting renewables to the transition to electric vehicles and tackling food waste, there is a whole range of projects underway which will contribute towards delivering our climate targets and ambitions. But there is always more to do and we hope to continue inspiring others to take action and join us on this journey to a sustainable future.”

The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise is now in its 56th year with winning businesses able to use the esteemed Queen’s Awards Emblem for the next five years.

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To view Southern Co-op’s long term strategy including its commitment to climate change and responsible business, visit