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Company Shop Group joins forces with Biffa to boost UK Corporate Surplus Responsibility

Walker Morris advises on sale of UK’s leading redistributor of surplus food and household products

A multidisciplinary team of lawyers at Walker Morris have advised the sellers of Company Shop Group (CSG), the UK’s leading redistributor of surplus food and household products, on its acquisition by Biffa.

The deal will see the two companies work together to deliver a unique circular economy proposition to the food manufacturing and FMCG sector; helping some the UK’s biggest operators to unlock sustainable value from the 141,000 tonnes of quality surplus waste that is produced in the UK each year.

Headquartered in Barnsley, the Group employs over a thousand colleagues around the UK and has a business model which puts environmental and social purpose at its heart. With a heritage spanning over five decades, it prevents waste by identifying surplus products and then collecting, processing and redistributing them for sale through its unique network of membership-based stores, whilst ensuring compliance with stringent food safety standards.

Surplus products include production overruns, trial products, or produce that has been incorrectly labelled or packaged which without intervention would be destined to become waste. The Group redistributed over 225m products over the last three years, and is growing its non-food related capacity, with over 4.5m non-food items handled per year.

Walker Morris fielded a multidisciplinary team led by Corporate Partner Richard Naish with support from Laura Cavell, Jessica Stanley and Abbie Thomas (Corporate); Nicola Parkinson and Luke Riley (Tax); Thomas Jackson (Real Estate); and Matthew Lingard (IP).

Commenting on the deal Richard Naish said:

“It has been a great privilege to work with CSG over a number of years and we’ve been proud to support the business throughout its growth and now on this major transaction. It has a unique model which serves to benefit its members, the community and the environment.

“CSG is a great fit with Biffa, which has been at the forefront of the UK’s waste industry for over a hundred years. The acquisition will enable CSG to continue to pioneer its sustainable solution of reducing waste while supporting communities.”

John Marren, Founder of CSG, commented:

“Like the business I founded over 50 years ago, Biffa plc is another vanguard, changing the way that people think about waste. 

Since day one of the Company Shop journey, I have been passionate about using business as a force for good, for the benefit of our industry, our people, our planet, and the communities we serve.

The shared values and ambitions of Company Shop and Biffa will enable both the delivery of a truly unique circular economy proposition to industry alongside continued growth in the important role that sustainable redistribution plays.

I am proud that this decision will enable Company Shop Group to step confidently into the future, as part of the global movement to reduce waste in our industry and our society. Today, more than ever, we are called to address the climate emergency, build our economy and support our communities.”

The membership base of Company Shop stores comprises of employees working in the FMCG supply chain, the care and emergency services, NHS and the armed forces. The Group’s sustainable investment strategy has seen the number of Company Shop stores double over the year to September 2019, to a total of 12 across England and Scotland.

The Group also operates an award-winning social enterprise, Community Shop, a not-for-profit community interest company with a network of six community hubs supporting some of the most deprived areas of UK.  Supported by donations from supplier partners, Community Shop provides its members with vital access to deeply discounted food, as well as life-changing learning and development programmes.

The announcement comes on the eve of the inaugural Food Waste Action Week, a WRAP initiative which seeks to wake the nation up to the environmental consequences of wasting food.