QuoLuxTM b-corp

Gloucestershire Businesses as a Force for Good

This week our blog comes from guest writer Andrew Merrell, founder and lead journalist of The Raikes Journal who reported on our event last week on using Business as a Force for Good. He asked the question: B Corp has become 'the gold standard of sustainability', but can 'doing good' really be good for your business too? 

This article first appeared in The Raikes Journal on 21st March 2024.

As more companies begin to look towards achieving B Corp status, the accreditation that marks them out as putting people and planet alongside profit, it seems one question remains – is it good for business? 

Staff recruitment, retention, wellbeing of staff, becoming a better place to work, the impact on the bottom line and the supply chain - it was all covered off by two real-life case study companies (one B Corp, one not) in front of an audience from the business community and the third sector. 

This was an event staged at Brickhampton Golf Complex by leadership development specialists QuoLux, itself a B Corp and which also delivered a fascinating look at just where this kind of approach to business can ultimately take those brave enough to make the journey.  

Dr Stewart Barnes, QuoLux’s chief executive, revealed the firm was involved in a trial in the North West of England using one of its digital tools to help big, ESG-conscious businesses (environmental and social governance) discover smaller, equally ESG-conscious local firms in their region to bring into their supply chains. The economic benefits of retaining the money in the region, clear for all to see.

The trial involves major corporates and large corporates who will work with small-medium companies, charities and social enterprises to align with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the 269 targets. Data is fed into QuoLux’s SDG Configurator, which then delivers potential matches.

It was data leaders in the North West saw value in when it came to arguing their case for central government to unlock the coffers of regional investment and potential green finance.

And it was a session that ended with the leader of Business West, Phil Smith, declaring, he was “happy to have a further conversation” - leaving others in the room wondering ‘will West-based businesses soon be invited to take part in a similar trial here?’.   

George Herbert, of Hobbs House Bakery, explained why the firm had begun its own B Corp journey and the resulting impact. 


 George Herbert, Managing Director, Hobbs House Bakery


“We are a family business. I’m the fifth generation – but we have a sixth generation already training in the company too.

We began our B Corp journey in 2016.

“Why? We have always tried to do what we thought were the right things – but we wanted our brand to grow even more and wanted people to really understand what we were doing.” 

It is reasoning backed up by a study from the Harvard Business School, which concluded B Corp was proving a meaningful way for firms to distinguish themselves from the ‘green washing’ employed by some competitors. 

As Herbert explained, it was not just a badge to Hobbs House Bakery wore, it had become both compass and light on a journey that had impacted everything from the origins of its ingredients to investment plans and culture.  

It was challenging, but was also helping Hobbs House thrive, he said. Turnover is currently £8 million, it has 160 staff, four shops, a cookery school, and produces an estimated 150,000 items every single week with supplies and resellers including the acclaimed Gloucester Services, as well as Boston Tea Party and Butcombe Brewery Group. 

B Corp, said Herbert, had probably had its most impact internally at a senior level. 

“It has made a difference in terms of recruitment of staff to our senior positions. What we have published about our journey has helped them to get a better understanding of the business and it has appealed to them,” he said.



And it was also impacting how it was able to influence its suppliers to come with them in their journey, ultimately producing an even better product, ethically, environmentally and in terms of that all-important outcome - taste. 

The findings chime with the claims made by B Lab, which certifies a company’s B Corp status. Its message being that firms that give equal priority to its mantra - ‘people, planet and profit’ - and engage with the process improved decision-making, strengthen staff retention, future-proof operations and make themselves more financially resilient. 

Figures from B Lab claim B Corps outperform ‘ordinary’ businesses worldwide on top-line growth between 2019 and 2021 and were also significantly better equipped to survive the pandemic - with more than 95 per cent of B Corps continuing to operate through to 2023, compared with 88 per cent of firms that were not certified. 

It also claims 78 per cent of British consumers think all businesses should put the interests of people and the planet alongside profit in their decision-making. 

Martin Holmes, people director at Creed Foodservice’s, said the Staverton family-owned firm, was not actually B Corp, but its efforts over a number of years chimed well with the B Corp message and that meaningful change, and especially putting people first, had made a positive impact on their business, including the all important bottom line.


 Martin Holmes, People Director, Creed Foodservice


Creed currently employs 450 staff and last year donated an estimated £80,000 in value to charitable causes in its community, including 505 volunteers hours by its staff, more than half of whom regularly support its internal monthly fundraising lottery that gives all funds raised to what is currently six chosen charities. 

That effort includes giving an incredible 29 tonnes of food to Fareshare, a charity which redistributes food firms are no longer able to sell to a good home. 

“Why are we not B Corp? Quite simply, for us it is cost,” said Holmes. 

For a company of its size the cost could be in the region of £30,000-plus. 

“It is something we discuss pretty much every year. I would like us too, but it has to be the right balance.” 

In the meantime, and for a number of years, it has been working to make itself a great place to work – working out how to make that meaningful, from paying the fair wage as a minimum to staff welling, how staff are treated and interact, and its supply chain. 

Creed Foodservice, he said, was incredibly proud to be recognised as one of the best places to work in the UK – with a highly prized two-star rating in the respected Sunday Times annual listing. 

“We are working towards three stars and expect to achieve that soon,” said Holmes, underlining as Herbert also had that such efforts were an ongoing journey. 


 Dr Stewart Barnes, CEO, QuoLux™, during his presentation


For Holmes, for a culture to be truly ‘people first’ leaders had to lead by example, be present and visible - and not expect everything to be easy or to fall on the shoulders of staff. 

“The first year we tried to achieve Best Company to Work For I remember some very challenging questions,” he said. 

“It is not so much about what your employees think of you, but about your leadership abilities, their personal growth and wellbeing, whether the company genuinely gives something back. 

“We are really pleased now that currently our highest criteria (in the Best Places to Work survey) was how we look after our staff’s wellbeing.” 

Its company values, he said, (commercial, friendly, nurturing and proud). were not only pinned to the wall of the business, but the foundations of its cultural DNA 

As for the bottom line? Likely to be a major deciding factor in all those in the room deciding whether to embark on their own journeys. Best Place to Work recognition but where had all that effort left Creed Foodservice? 

Its last set of published accounts show it passed £100 million turnover for the first time in what was its 50th year of trading. 


Raikes is a quality digital magazine for Gloucestershire, a community interest company dedicated to building community with engaging, original journalism about businesses, charities, education & training and more, funded by our readers and partners. Readers of our blog can take advantage of a special discount on the subscription price by clicking here.



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