// Co-op CEO Jo Whitfield won the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award for 2019
// Whitfield is the first-ever female CEO for a grocer
// The White Company founder Chrissie Rucker was awarded the Veuve Clicquot Tribute Award
Co-op’s food chief executive Jo Whitfield has been announced as the winner of the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award for 2019.
The long-standing award recognises women in business and is named after Madame Clicquot, a French businesswoman who developed the beloved eponymous French champagne.
The Body Shop founder Anita Roddick has also been recognised with this award in the past.
Whitfield is the first female chief executive of a British food retailer, overseeing the day-to-day operations of Co-op’s food business – part of the Co-operative Group.
She joined office in 2017.
The judging panel outlined her role in boosting profits and sales for the Co-op’s retail arm and achieving over four years of like-for-like growth.
Furthermore, Whitfield has bolstered Co-op’s innovatory by trialling online sales, delivery methods with Deliveroo, boosting sales in test stores – as well as her work in increasing sustainability.
The award has also recognised Whitfield’s new not-for-profit women’s network, Grocery Girls, a network which aims to attract talent, widen people’s contacts and develop new business partnerships to aid this.
It currently has over 500 senior members and aims to mainly appeal to female leaders and those who aspire to a more senior role from all grocery businesses, including supermarkets, manufacturers and their suppliers.
“It is an amazing way to champion the success of business women worldwide. There are still opportunities needed in many workplaces to match the diversity of modern society. That is why I felt it important to launch a new network, Grocery Girls, to develop and foster female talent in the grocery sector,” Whitfield said.
“I’m so pleased to have been awarded this honour, which is also great recognition for my colleagues at the Co-op. Our convenience business is growing ahead of the market and we’ve shown that you can be successful by doing good business and go on to do good things in community with the money you make.”
She added: “I’m proud to lead a business that gives back £39 million to local causes, has the lowest plastic footprint of any retailer and is innovating for customers with pay-in-aisle technology and home deliveries on eco-bikes.”
Meanwhile, founder of the British homeware retailer The White Company, Chrissie Rucker was awarded the Veuve Clicquot Tribute Award.
The award recognises Rucker’s work in the retail industry over the past 25 years when she began to build and grow her own company.
Founded in 1994, The White Company offers a wide range of home accessories for the modern home.
On receiving the award, Rucker said: “I have always thought of the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Awards as being one of the most prestigious (almost the Oscars for women in business!). It’s wonderful that it celebrates the breadth of our new up-and-coming stars as well as the more established businesses.”
“I hope we can all play a small part in helping to inspire the next generation of future female leaders, just as Madame Clicquot has done for so many years,” she said.