Heart in Business Limited

Having sold the Crouch End store, I recognised that to truly call Thornton’s Budgens a heartful business, we would need to go much deeper with the team at the store.

And to do that, we needed to truly engage the whole team at Thornton’s Budgens – all 80 of us!

I also realised that my life purpose is to help put the “Heart back into Business”. I am writing a book, “How to put the Heart Back into Business”; this shares my journey from profit-focused entrepreneur to heartful business leader and inspires others to do the same.

With six others, I have founded Heart in Business Limited. Our mission is:

“Heart in Business Limited will enable companies to put people and our planet first, trusting profit will follow.”

Thornton’s Budgens is the case study for Heart in Business Limited and our testing ground – where we develop tools to help businesses become more heartful.

In 2013, The Heart Programme was developed to create a working environment that is safe, where people feel cared for and trusted, and where they can bring all of their talents to develop the business and create a better world – two aims which, I strongly believe, do not have to be mutually exclusive.

Based on the work of environmental activist, Joanna Macy, the Heart Programme takes people through a process that helps them connect much better with each other and share themselves fully at work. The end result – much better teamwork, a motivated team that care about their job and the company they work for – in short, a team that are energised and committed.

Since we implemented the Heart Programme, our ‘mystery shopper’ scores have been amazing. Having previously varied from 63% – 100% for customer service, we have achieved 100% on each of the last ten studies; and our customers have commented on how they notice the difference.

And our sales grew by five percent!

Click here to watch our short film on the Heart Programme.

Following the introduction of the Heart Programme, every department has a monthly ‘heart meeting’ where the full time team members get to be involved in their departments strategy and shape their working lives. We know that one of the key factors to being fulfilled in work is having an input into decision making.

Having created a safer working environment, we are now developing our heartfulness in two areas, the Council and Empowerment.

The Council

We have now expanded this decision making input to the whole business. Prior to 2015, the key decisions where taken by myself, Jim (our store manager) and Shanthy (our financial controller). Now these decisions and our strategy is shaped by the Thornton’s Budgens Council which is made up of the three of us and 11 team members – Ala, from the admin team, Anu from the Post Office, Greta and Nicole from the Deli, Jahid from the fresh food team, Parvin from the Checkouts and Rasa from the shop floor.

Prior to the first council meeting we had a series of clearing meetings where every team member had the opportunity to let us know any problems they had or issues they faced working at Thornton’s Budgens. Everything was documented, and I have committed that the Council will cover each area and identify how we can change things.


One of the key areas that the team identified is Empowerment. We are working through a process to grow empowerment. We started at the senior team where we have worked with Chris Randall from Heart in Business Limited to get us all to a place where we only do the jobs we love doing. The effect has been amazing, and as I write this we are working with the council to figure out how to apply it to the whole store.

To find out more about Heart in Business Limited please visit heartinbusiness.org.

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With heart

Andrew Thornton
Founder Thornton’s Budgens Limited & Heart in Business Limited.