Creating a Business With a Purpose

How do you reinvent the convenience store with a unique focus on sustainability? This week’s Convenience Matters podcast looks at how Thornton’s Budgens has found success.

July 22, 2020

ALEXANDRIA, Va.— “We’re the community supermarket that really cares about people and planet,” said Andrew Thornton, founder of Thornton’s Budgens, in the latest episode of Convenience Matters, “A Conversation with Andrew Thornton About Going Plastic-Free.”

Thornton’s Budgens is what Thornton calls “a convenience supermarket.” The 8,000 square foot independent U.K. store, has been internationally recognized for its innovation and earned the 2019 NACS European Convenience Retail Sustainability Award.

The store was the first one to be known for its plastics-free products. “Given our purpose, we … felt we had a role to play in this arena,” Thornton said. “We decided we would do something because we could. … We’re not totally plastic-free but across all the key categories, we have plastic-free options.”

Thornton’s decision to embrace plastic-free had three underlying objectives:

  1. To reduce the amount of plastic the store contributed.
  2. To give customers the opportunity to shop plastic-free.
  3. To show the big retailers this was a lot less difficult than they let on.

“There was a perception in the industry that more loose products would lead to higher waste, and that has not been our experience,” Thornton said. By focusing on merchandising their loose products, Thornton’s Budgens’ waste has gone down. “Plastic is ugly. If you go into our store now, what you see is an amazing fruit and veg department which is 85% loose, and that’s all at the beginning,” he said.

Each week a new Convenience Matters episode is released. With more than 200 episodes to choose from, the podcast can be heard on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play and other podcast apps and YouTube and at Episodes have been downloaded more than 130,000 times by listeners around the world.