The Co-op hopes to raise £30m to help those hardest hit by the coronavirus lockdown by allowing members to donate their unspent shopping reward points to a new support fund which will also draw on the chief executive’s salary.
The food retailer estimates that its 4.6 million members have built up points worth £30m by earning a reward of 5% every time they buy a Co-op brand or service. It is now encouraging them to donate these points to its new coronavirus fund.
Steve Murrells, Co-op’s chief executive, has promised to top up the fund by donating 20% of his salary for the next three months to help support food banks, a funeral hardship fund and other frontline community causes.
The Co-Op paid Murrells an annual salary of £869,000 in 2018, excluding bonus pay, which could mean a personal donation of more than £200,000 to the new fund.
“Millions of people are suffering financial hardship at the moment and so it felt right for me to offer to take this pay cut and directly support causes which are very important to me and close to my heart,” Murrells said.
The retailer said members could now visit their online “wallet” on the Co-Op website and choose to donate the reward points to the Co-Op members’ coronavirus fund.
The donations will be used initially to support food banks and a funeral bereavement fund, as well as other local causes that are helping to alleviate the impact of the coronavirus lockdown.
The plan to kickstart a new coronavirus fund comes one week after the ethical food retailer scrapped its Easter TV advertising campaign to donate the airtime – worth £2.5m – to promoting FareShare, a food bank charity.
The retailer has also created an extra 5,000 jobs in its stores to cope with increased demand, and is offering temporary employment contracts to hospitality workers who have lost their jobs due to the downturn.
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