Murrells has placed the issue at the top of his agenda, accelerating the work the mutual has done over the past decade.
The Co-op started working with The One Foundation 12 years ago, investing in clean water, sanitation and hygiene projects in Africa in a bid to help some of the 884 million people across the globe who are without access to clean, safe water.
Every bottle of water the Co-op sells, both own-brand and private label, helps raise money for that cause. For every litre of private label water sold, the Co-op donates 3p to The One Foundation, while every litre of branded water sold results in 1p going to Water Unite.
To-date, those initiatives have helped the Co-op raise more than £11m in the war on water poverty.
In addition to the Co-op’s work as a business, Murrells has taken a personal interest in raising awareness of the cause.
He shared a stage with the likes of Coldplay and Pharrell Williams at the Global Citizen Festival in Hamburg in July 2017, championing Water Unite’s bid to sing up private sector partners.
The Co-op has blazed a trail for the cause and remains the only UK retailer to stock a range of own-brand charity water.
But Murrells’ commitment to spearheading the fight on water poverty and attempting to bring other retailers on board makes him a worthy nominee for this year’s Retail Activist prize.
The Retail Activist Award
Murrells has been nominated for the Retail Activist Award at the Retail Week Awards, sponsored by Salesforce.
The Retail Activist prize aims to recognise an individual who has personally championed a cause or led a campaign which demonstrates retail’s good corporate citizenship and contribution to society.
Murrells is on the shortlist alongside Dave Lewis, chief executive of Tesco, for his work on food waste; James Timpson, the boss of Timpson, for his commitment to employing ex-offenders; Richard Walker, managing director of Iceland, for his work on plastics and palm oil; Alannah Weston, deputy chair of Selfridges, for her work on Project Ocean and sustainability more widely; and Jacqueline Gold, chief executive of Ann Summers, for her work on empowering women in the workplace.
The winner will be announced at the awards on March 14.
Watch: Dave Lewis on the war on food waste
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Watch: Retail Activist nominee Steve Murrells on tackling water poverty