“I started to buy surplus food,” he says, “and sell it on to people that worked in food manufacturing at a reduced price.” Now stocked with global and household names, Company Shop saves 30,000 tonnes of food from becoming waste and stops 12,892 Olympic swimming pools-worth of water going down the drain every year.
“I have always been driven by the desire to be different and to make a difference as a business,” he says. “Rather than seeing surplus food as something that should go to waste, we view it as a valuable resource that can have a positive social and environmental impact.”
In December 2013, John expanded upon the Company Shop ethos to create Community Shop, the UK’s first social supermarket. “Community Shop takes the same surplus redistribution concept from Company Shop,” he explains “but opens its stores in areas of deprivation, where peoples needs are in receipt of welfare support.”
Community Shop members gain access to cheap food, but also get free personal development support to help them build confidence, manage debt and seek employment.
Not content with them just playing a role, John believes that businesses can be “the greatest force for social good”. He strives to practice what he preaches: “There is no clearer example of this than the projects we are working on, which utilise our commercial infrastructure and contractual partnerships to deliver social outcomes.”