Hitchin 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 Hitchin.
Today, we chat with Mark Jepps, store manager of Co-op’s Stotfold store near to Hitchin.
Mark joined the Co-op in 2008 at the age of 16, and has worked in retail for 13 years. He has always had a passion for the trade and explains how he admires the Co-op’s community values and ethos.
“The Co-op is a good company to work for because I feel they see us as people rather than just a number. They also have a real desire to support our local community,” Mark underlines.
At Co-op, you’ll get a sense of purpose you might not find in other retail manager roles, he says. The way the company treats customers makes a big difference in our communities. You’ll get to know people and do everything to make sure your store has a positive effect on their lives.
Mark’s work also involves training his team to spot customer needs, adding: “I would say my favourite part of my job is motivating my staff and making our store a happy place to work. That then reflects in our customer service.”
Since the pandemic, Mark says he and his team have gone to even greater lengths to ensure their customers have been well looked after, instore and across our community.
“My store and colleagues have helped support the community throughout the pandemic by remaining open throughout,” he explains.
“We’ve always focused on keeping the store as safe as possible through extra cleaning and operating a one-way system for example, but most of all by keeping a smile on our faces to try and brighten up people's days in such hard times.”
Mark has also been actively promoting one of the Co-op’s many community programmes.
Commercial awareness and community spirit is the driving force, with Mark’s store supporting donations across local schools while also giving towards the Christmas lights in Stotfold.
“During the pandemic we also handed out 20 gift parcels to local businesses that stayed open, as a way of saying 'thank you,'” Mark explains, adding, “every year we support three local causes through our membership scheme. We are currently in the process of planning our celebration day with them.”
The Local Community Fund causes that Co-op Members can support in Stotfold include Headway Hertfordshire, a non-profit organisation that works to improve the lives of those who have experienced brain injuries.
Howard Garden Social and Day Care Centre also benefit through special lunches, while the Co-op also support dog training and socialising organisation Woof n Wag on the Stotfold Road.
“And as a business we also support our national charity partner, Mind by holding raffles in store as well as ‘dress up’ days,” Mark confirms.
Co-op also recognises the importance of championing a better way of doing business and doing the right thing by our communities, our people and our planet.
In order to do this Mark takes a collaborative approach on sustainability with Co-op customers, members, suppliers and partners. Especially when signing up new members who believe in what he and his team believe, while also working closely with partners and others.
“Instore we have just launched soft plastic recycling, and we also have a foodshare partner,” he concludes.
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 here or in-store.
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