At our store, we strive to be more than just a shop. We want to do more for our customers, neighbourhoods, employees, suppliers and the planet than simply buying and selling products. We believe in promoting health in our communities through organic, natural and sustainable products, and acting sustainably and ethically as a business.
We care deeply about the communities we are a part of. Our goal is to promote health within our communities and to be ethical in our treatment of both people and the planet. Being part of a community also means being part of conversations, listening and using the views of those we serve to improve what we do.
So why organic and natural? Put simply, we believe organic is the most sustainable way to farm and we believe organic, natural food and products are the best for our health.
When we opened in 1995, we were the first shop to be certified by the Soil Association and we continue to work closely with them to certify that our fresh produce, brand products, all of the food cooked in our kitchens, our juices, smoothies, and coffees made in-store are organic and natural. The Soil Association also helped us develop the training our new starters complete when they join the business.
Organic agriculture boils down to respecting our soil – the resource we cannot feed ourselves without. The goal of organic agriculture is not to produce more. The goal is to improve soil health, produce more nutritious food, increase biodiversity, protect wildlife and steer clear of the harmful pesticides that undermine these goals.
We recognise that there’s always work to do on the journey to becoming more sustainable and are constantly looking for more innovative, greener ways to do things. We’ve made some significant changes over the years too, which we’re proud of.
We became the first zero edible food waste business in 2018 by redistributing leftover food to the community through Olio and Too Good To Go. Any food waste that’s inedible is composted and used by regenerative agriculture farms around London.
In 2014, we launched our Unpackaged range of refillable organic essentials in Muswell Hill and now have Unpackaged stations in the majority of our stores. In 2019, we opened a plastic free and refillable beauty installation in Muswell Hill to reduce and reuse toiletry packaging.
Packaging and waste is an area we continue to innovate in. All of our takeaway food containers, juice and coffee cups are compostable, and we have specific bins in store in which to dispose of these. In 2019, we re-launched our range of store cupboard essentials in home compostable packaging and we have unpackaged essentials in most of our stores. When listing new products, our buyers press suppliers on packaging, always encouraging more sustainable options.
Our online orders are delivered across the UK in cardboard boxes made from 75% recycled fibres and padded out with recycled scrunched paper and compostable air pockets. Chilled products are kept cool with sustainable wool packaging.
Health for our community of customers
We started out in 1995 as a health food shop, the only certified organic shop in London, and are now the largest chain of Soil Association certified organic shops in the UK. We believe that natural is better for us and for the environment, so we have never sold food which contains artificial sweeteners, flavours, colours, preservatives, or any genetically modified food and products. Our buyers scrupulously check the ingredients lists and origins of every product on our shelves so that you don’t have to.
Our kitchens are Soil Association certified organic which means that everything served from our food, coffee, juice, smoothies and bakery counters is made using only the best organic ingredients.
We only source meat and eggs from British organic farms (with the exception of wild game which cannot be certified organic as it is wild) and our fruit, vegetables and dairy are always certified organic.
All of our fish is sustainably sourced and falls under the Marine Conservation Society’s ‘Fish to Eat’ list. We frequently review our range to ensure it meets the highest level of sustainability and seasonality and always consider the catch method, location and
We pride ourselves on catering for a huge range of dietary requirements from vegan to gluten-free, vegetarian to dairy-free, so we mark all of our products with symbols in store and online for easy shopping.
Over the years, we’ve incorporated non-organic products into our range to keep up with demand from our customers and to ensure we can continue to provide the widest range of natural products on the market. This doesn’t mean we’re any less rigorous with our sourcing, and never stock products containing artificial ingredients.
Selling products to support healthy living isn’t enough. Our teams are trained to give unbiased advice on whatever you’d like help with, from which supplement to take or which products suit your dietary requirements. Our Health and Bodycare department will always have a trained advisor on hand to help you with any queries and many of our team members are qualified nutritionists and naturopaths.
We want to spark up conversations, debate and to encourage learning, which is why we host events for anyone to attend to learn from our suppliers, brands and industry experts. We host events in store and over on our Instagram, so that everyone can make it.
Support for our community of brands
Finding fledging new brands or innovative products only available overseas is what makes us tick. Our buyers help brands at the beginning of their journey and support founders through from concept to scaling up, and continue to support well after the products have landed on our shelves.
Health in our local neighbourhoods and communities
Supporting local causes
Each of the local communities around our stores are a hive of schools, clubs, networks and culture. To be a part of the community means to support where we can. We sponsor a diverse collection of community projects that share our vision of healthy communities, from kids football clubs to cycling groups, and the Lexi Cinema in Queen’s Park, to name a few.
Discount for students and NHS staff
We want what we offer to be available to everyone, so we offer 10% discounts for students and NHS staff on absolutely everything in store. Just show your student or NHS card in store to redeem.
High priority deliveries during Covid-19
Many of our vulnerable customers were shielding during lockdown and initially struggled to get delivery slots online with any supermarkets. Our teams identified these customers, contacted them and made sure they got a slot. This is the kind of thing that really matters to us, being able to support our community when they need it most.
Supporting our internal Planet Organic community
Learning and Development
Before getting to work on the shop floor, all new members of the team begin with a comprehensive introduction to food and nutrition. Initially, we teach the fundamentals of organic agriculture, natural products, dietary requirements and health trends. Team members then continue with training during their first three months with us to continue deepening their product knowledge. It’s really important to us that our team members are able to give the best, specialist advice to our customers.
Everyone has the opportunity to visit suppliers, from kefir-makers to apple-growers, beekeepers to kombucha-brewers, to develop their knowledge and to meet the faces behind the labels. We host regular training sessions with brands to continue learning and development and enable our teams to best advise our customers.
We support the development of everyone who works here with a large proportion of team members progressing to store management and head office roles.
Our year-long apprenticeship scheme, delivered in partnership with HIT, gives apprentices the opportunity to gain experience working in different departments throughout our stores. On completion of the scheme, trainees will be offered a permanent position with us.
As a business, we’re committed to supporting those from our communities who find themselves confronted by an increased number of barriers to finding meaningful work.
This year, we joined leading companies from a range of sectors and industries in signing the Inclusive Culture Pledge, an initiative managed by diversity consultancy The EW Group.
Joining the Pledge is a public commitment that we take diversity and inclusion at our storeseriously and that we understand the need to provide our employees with a safe, fair and supportive place to work.
We are proud to offer Supported Internships for young people with learning difficulties. The scheme is available to SEND (special educational needs and disability) candidates from local schools and we collaborate with Westminster City Council and Kensington & Chelsea Council to deliver this. Study programmes include on-the-job training with expert coaches responsible for supporting both interns and their managers. Programmes can also give interns the opportunity to take courses to develop other relevant skills, such as effective communication or understanding money.
We work with The House of St. Barnabas, a charity that helps homeless people back into employment and Drive Forward Foundation, a London-based charity working with 13-26 year-olds leaving the care system. With Drive Forward, we offer work experience to provide one-to-one support, mentoring, training and development for gaining employment and accessing a brighter future.
Our 2019 gender pay gap is below average at -6.91% in 2019, reduced by 0.49% from 2018, but we strive to do better and are determined to close the gap entirely.
Discrimination trained staff
We welcome everyone into our stores and our online community and relish the diversity of customers we meet daily: it’s what brings our community to life. We are not perfect, but we continue to learn from our mistakes to improve what we do.
Our team members and head office have all completed training on diversity and discrimination, and we will continue to train all new starters to ensure our values are being followed across the board.