1 Oct 2018
My first job was at Tesco, where I started as a 16-year-old looking for part-time work to fit around my studies.
Today I’m a Store Director, overseeing 27 stores in and around Birmingham.
I’ve always been fascinated in how people shop and it’s a subject people increasingly want to chat to me about. That’s because retail is so often in the news, both nationally and here in Birmingham. Forty per cent of us in Birmingham believe retail is the industry with the biggest impact in driving economic prosperity in the area, and when you consider it accounts for 10% of jobs in the West Midlands , you can see why. The way shopping is changing has made me reflect on my own role overseeing supermarkets in my home town.
For me and my colleagues, Tesco is also a place where we work to support our families. We employ more than 1,200 full-time colleagues in Birmingham in jobs that help them get on on their own terms.
Take Lucy at our Sheldon Superstore. Lucy went to school in Sutton Coldfield and came back to the region after university. She joined the Store Manager Graduate Scheme in 2013 and has progressed incredibly quickly, recently becoming the youngest store manager in the area.
Our contribution goes further than being an employer though. Earlier this year, KPMG published a report examining Tesco’s contribution in communities across the country. We call it Value in Your Town. The report opened my eyes to the contribution we make to communities across Birmingham and the UK as a whole.
Take the long-term supplier partnerships we have. We work with more than 90 suppliers in and around Birmingham, supporting almost 7,000 jobs. A great local example is Purity Soft Drinks. They’ve been making juices in the Black Country for over a hundred years now but last year they were picked for our incubator initiative, which sees a handful of entrepreneurial suppliers benefit from mentoring and workshops. They’ve achieved phenomenal growth since, with their Juiceburst brand now the fastest growing soft drink in the UK. We see ourselves as genuine partners to Purity, helping to grow demand for their products, giving them much-needed certainty about their future, and fostering their innovation.
We’re also making a positive contribution in Birmingham through our Bags of Help scheme, where the money raised by the sale of carrier bags is being used to fund local projects that have been nominated by Tesco colleagues and customers. Last year we donated over £245,000 to community projects in and around Birmingham – in fact, maybe you were one of the customers who voted for Brumtastic Bees, a project to put beehives into local community allotments and train volunteers to manage them.
Food waste is another subject really close to our hearts at Tesco. Our Community Food Connection programme, delivered in partnership with FareShare, links our stores in Birmingham to local charities and community groups to ensure that no good food goes to waste. In Birmingham, we’ve donated enough food to provide almost 68,000 meals to people who need them.
I’m clear that my number one job is still to make it easier for Birmingham’s families to enjoy good quality, affordable food. But I’m proud to be part of something even bigger than that – from helping local businesses grow, to creating rewarding jobs, to giving back to the local community.
Brummies have mixed feelings about how the general economic situation in our city will change over the next 12 months – 25% think it will get a little better, 20% think it’ll get a little worse. I don’t have a crystal ball, but I can say that we’ll keep working hard to serve Birmingham better in the future.
For more information on Tesco’s contribution in your local area, visit tescoplc.com\valueinyourtown