hiSbe (how it Should be) is an ethical supermarket in York Place, at the bottom of London Road, opposite St Peter’s Church, which follows a set of guiding principles for sourcing ethical and sustainable produce to provide affordable food that is local, healthy, natural, GM and pesticide-free, fairly traded, high welfare, seasonal, and minimally packaged.
Since opening in December 2013, the independent supermarket has expanded its range of products available in-store by a third. Existing suppliers are also receiving larger orders for a wider range of produce, with new suppliers being sourced weekly – 24 producers now provide goods from a 30-mile radius. Core to hiSbe’s values is that suppliers get a fair price, and Brighton’s increasing appetite for ethically sourced, sustainable and fairly priced food has allowed the store to bring that fair price policy to even more local suppliers. Ruth Anslow, co-founder at hiSbe, said: “We’re chuffed to be the only Brighton and Sussex based organisation short-listed for the Observer Ethical Retailer of the Year award. We always prioritise local suppliers with high quality standards and deal with them directly to guarantee that our customers’ purchases feed back into the local economy. Customers pay less, producers earn more, staff are paid a living wage and we show the larger supermarkets how it should be.”
Milk is a good example of the fair price policy. UK dairy farmers received on average 19p per pint in February (DairyCo), compared to hiSbe dairy farmers who received 41p from every 50p pint of milk purchased in-store.
This approach has clearly gained the support of the local community. Following a successful crowd-sourcing campaign in April 2013 and launch in December, the store hit break-even in January and has exceeded sales targets since then – it is currently averaging 2,000 transactions per week. Customers now also receive a breakdown of how their money is distributed in their receipt. In February, 59p of every pound spent at hiSbe was given back to suppliers.
The winner of The Observer Ethical Retailer award will be announced in June based on public votes.