The Co-operative Fairbourne Springs

By Sue Adkins, International Director, Business in the Community

The Co-operative Fairbourne Springs

The Co-operative is the only retailer to launch an own-brand ethical bottled water, in partnership with The One Foundation, raising funds for clean water and sanitation projects across sub-Saharan Africa.

Social impacts

  • Over 750 water pumps were installed or rehabilitated across 11 different sub-Saharan countries.
  • Improved sanitation and adoption of good hygiene practices reduced the transmission of water-borne diseases.
  • Women and children were empowered and communities given the training, knowledge, skills and confidence to become more self-sufficient.

Business impacts

  • Sales of Fairbourne Springs continued to grow.
  • Communications activity about Fairbourne Springs reached 20 million customers, 1 million members and 70,000 colleagues.
  • The Co-operative received an honorary award from The One Foundation for their contribution to The One Foundation’s £10 million milestone, thus reinforcing their own brand and reputation.

In 2008, the Co-operative Group launched Fairbourne Springs in partnership with The One Foundation. The aim was to be the first ever retailer to offer an ethical own-brand water product. Using a cause-related marketing approach, for every litre sold, the Co-operative Group donates 3p to The One Foundation to fund clean water and sanitation projects across sub-Saharan Africa.

The One Foundation identifies target groups to support and finds suitable delivery partners. To maximise results for each project, it works with trusted NGO partners, such as Oxfam, who have in-country experience.

Through the project, the Co-operative Group has donated over £5.5 million to fund clean water projects, benefiting over 1.3 million people. This safe, clean, sustainable water enhances health and quality of life, reduces the incidence of waterborne diseases and reduces the time spent collecting water.

What The Co-operative Food’s Chief Executive said:

“We’re proud that our Fairbourne Springs water was the first and is still the only own-brand ethical water in the UK. Our goal is to be the number one convenience retailer in the UK, and with Fairbourne Springs, our customers can buy a convenient product in their local community, as well as making a difference to communities across Africa.” – Steve Murrells, Chief Executive, The Co-operative Food

Editor’s Note: This blog was previously published on Business in The Community and is reproduced with permission.

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