I have always considered there is a great more to business than making money at Middleton Hall – not one of the seven values that guide our decision making mention money or profit. Yes, we do have to make a profit in order to reinvest, make repayments to the bank and reassure our staff and customers but there is a lot more to it.
Andrew Thornton who runs the Budgens franchise in Belsize Park was speaking at a conference I was at last weekend and we compared notes afterwards. Andrew runs his Budgens rather differently from other normal retailers “Our intention at Thornton’s Budgens is to put people and the planet first trusting that profit will follow”. Where else would you find educational programmes for local school children growing organic fruit and vegetables on the roof of a supermarket in London to be sold on a not for profit basis in the store below?
At home we receive a Riverford Organic Meat and Veg box each week from their local farm. Along with recipes for the contents (even ways to try and make black kale tasty!) there is normally some commentary from Guy Watson, the founder. Alongside occasional rants (the National Farmers Union earning his scorn and derision last week), a recent one struck a chord for me when he wrote about challenging the management to make Riverford a truly exceptional place to work. Clearly Guy recognises that his business is all about people (and vegetables) and you can hear his passion. The vegetables and meat (and other organic, ethical goodies they provide) are terrific too. Even better since curly kale has replaced its scary black sibling.
Although Middleton Hall is rather different from supermarkets and farms, our vision has far more in common with Thornton’s Budgens and Riverford Organics than many organisations in our own industry. We will also be growing more of our own fruit and vegetables next year (more on that soon).
Let’s be thankful for businesses run with real passion and motivated by genuine commitment to people and the planet. And hopeful that banks and energy companies might take note.