The UK’s leading redistributor of surplus stock, Company Shop Group, has welcomed the second cohort of its ‘Luminary Programme’, which educates global-facing brands and shows them how to deliver more sustainable and social business practices.

The online learning and development platform – a first-of-its-kind mentoring project for industry leaders – was designed and built by Yorkshire-headquartered integrated agency The Bigger Boat.

In just 12 weeks, the Yorkshire-based team created a simple-to-use online platform with online toolkits, interactive activities, and downloadable resources – plus integrated Zoom and recorded calls functionality – to ensure the mentorship programme could continue during the pandemic, as people worked remotely.

Following a successful initial roll out in October 2020 – which saw brands including Amazon, Coca-Cola European Partners and M&S sign-up, this year’s ‘luminaries’ include Ocado, Premier Foods and Arla, to name a few.

These mentors are now guiding the next cohort of future industry leaders in intelligent surplus management and reduction of unnecessary food waste. Every brand also nominates a ‘Senior Sponsor’ to visit their participant’s workplace, conduct regular calls, and provide ongoing touchpoints – such as a personalised email summary and review – to ensure they stay on-track with their e-Learning.

The online programme came to fruition following DEFRA funding for Company Shop Group in 2019, as the sustainability-focused brand began the ambitious challenge of homing in on the hardest to reach surplus – stock which requires expert intervention and is often difficult to redistribute.

Alison Lee, account director at The Bigger Boat, said: “It’s been exciting to see the success of this project unfold, especially because it is centred on sustainability and how we can all be educated to become leaders of change.

“We’ve received excellent feedback from the online programme. Users have enjoyed the clearly-presented tools, the platform’s simplicity, and how it’s helped them to identify surplus which may have been too difficult to access before. It’s been a great exercise for business to make massive changes.”

Gary Stott, non-executive director at Company Shop Group and the Luminary Programme’s lead mentor, added: “This platform had to capture the passion of a movement of change-makers who were committed to delivering a commercial, social, and environmental impact through their work.

“The Bigger Boat did exactly that, and understood what we needed, turned it around quickly, responded instantly to any required changes, and offered us simple solutions before we even thought about them. The team has been incredible in developing and launching an innovation with precision, expertise, and adaptability.”