Belfast Telegraph

'We've a very simple aim: to make areas around Asda stores better places to live'

Asda speaks about why it is sponsoring the Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility category in the Belfast Telegraph Business Awards in partnership with Ulster Bank

Joe McDonald, Asda's senior manager of corporate affairs NI, with members of Autism NI’s Antrim Community Support Group at Asda Antrim's Autism Friendly Hour
Joe McDonald, Asda's senior manager of corporate affairs NI, with members of Autism NI’s Antrim Community Support Group at Asda Antrim's Autism Friendly Hour

With 17 busy superstores and a workforce of more than 4,500, Asda is widely recognised as an established part of Northern Ireland’s economic framework.

Local customers continue to respond positively to our product and service offering, resulting in NI becoming one of the top-performing regions in the UK.

“When it comes to performance, success and responsibility go hand-in-hand,” Joe McDonald, Asda’s senior manager for corporate affairs NI, said.

Mr McDonald is delighted the company is sponsoring the Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) category.

“CSR straddles everything we do in Asda — how we support our customers and colleagues, how we care for the environment and how we work with our supply chain,” he said.

“Our aim is to operate as a responsible business in every sense of the word, and we feel it is important to recognise and reward others who do the same.”

For Asda, the local communities in which the stores operate lie at the heart of its business.

Thanks to the success of its community programme and charitable trust, The Asda Foundation, the company has made a huge difference to a wide range of charities and organisations.

This is driven by its team of community champions, each of whom dedicates a significant part of their working week to fundraising, volunteering and working with worthy causes.

In 2016 alone, Asda NI helped to raise more than £500,000 for local community groups.

The aim is simple — to make the areas around Asda stores better places in which to live and work.

Our CSR programme has also become a core element of Asda’s mission to become Britain’s most trusted retailer.

“We have a long and proud history of supporting the communities we serve,” Joe said.

“It defines the way we work and the way we do business. Quite simply, it’s the right thing to do and is in keeping with our ethos of saving people money and helping them to live better.”

From large-scale national campaigns such as Children in Need and Tickled Pink, to hands-on support for a local OAP group or animal shelter, the emphasis is on making connections and making a difference.

“Acting responsibly means knowing your customers and understanding the issues which impact their lives,” said Joe.

Initiatives such as support for the local agri-food sector through NI Year of Food & Drink, Balmoral Show and sponsorship of the Open Farm Weekend are further reflected in the level of locally sourced food stocked.

As a major employer, Asda remains a people-focused business, supporting colleagues through career development, apprenticeship schemes, bespoke management training and actively pursuing diversity and inclusion.

Asda also partners with The Prince’s Trust to deliver its Get into Retail scheme, which to date has resulted in permanent job opportunities for new colleagues who had previously been long-term unemployed.

Sustainability is another important aspect of Asda’s CSR programme. From its wonky veg initiative and investment in low-carbon trucks, to its efforts on waste packaging, the company is working hard to reduce the resources needed to grow, process, store, transport and retail the products it sells.

Congratulating the shortlisted companies on reaching the final stage of the awards, Joe said: “These organisations recognise CSR is no longer a business add-on. It’s embedded in the company DNA and is delivering results which impact at many levels, creating a shared value between commercial interests and community needs.”