New concept supermarket aims to be both ethical and affordable

A new Brighton supermarket aims to educates shoppers on ‘how it should be’, making everyday grocery shopping a more ethical affair

A new supermarket that aims to make ethical shopping accessible to everyone is set to launch its first store in Brighton later this year.

HiSbe, which stands for ‘how it should be’, will stock everyday items but with high ethical standards and aims to be as transparent as possible to help people make informed choices. As a community interest company, profits will be distributed in the interests of customers, not just for the benefit of shareholders.

Sisters and co-founders Amy and Ruth Anslow have been working for the past two years to plan the business and raise the start-up cash. “We thought the best way to tackle the problems with supermarkets was to start our own, with human values and ethics right at the core,” Amy told Positive News.

Despite supermarkets now stocking many ethical products, hiSbe believes that customers are often misled or misinformed. “They’ve made it easy for customers to not care,” said Amy Anslow. “I think there’s a lot of confusion and a lot of distrust; people often think they’re getting ripped off by having to pay more for ethical products and [supermarkets] don’t always explain what the differences are.”

Unlike other alternatives to supermarkets such as organic and health food shops, hiSbe wants to be accessible to people less informed about the food system. “We support all independents, but what we noticed is that the majority of people that shop at supermarkets are not shopping with their values,” said Anslow. “We wanted to come up with something more mainstream, that is acceptable to the average family who need to put a spaghetti bolognese on the table.”

The premises of the new HiSbe supermarket due to open soon in Brighton

The premises of the new HiSbe supermarket due to open soon in Brighton

To keep prices comparable with regular supermarkets, hiSbe will source products directly from producers where possible, allow people to buy in bulk and rent shop space to local businesses. The store won’t necessarily sell ethically certified food either. “It’s part of the problem, that some of the farmers can’t afford to be certified,” said Anslow. “But we will be massively informed by those kinds of criteria.” For bigger brands, hiSbe will only stock products listed in the top three in the Ethical Consumer products guide.

Although hiSbe has secured a premises near the centre of Brighton, an opening date is yet to be confirmed. Some £25,000 is still needed before the store can open, but with decorating already under way, the sisters are confident that it won’t take long to raise the final amount.

As well as investing their own savings, the founders have set up a crowd funding campaign where donors can invest £10 in exchange for £12 off their shopping when the store opens. They are also seeking private investors for larger sums.

If the Brighton store is a success, hiSbe hopes to expand the business elsewhere. “Once we’ve proved the concept works, we’ll open new stores wherever communities want them,” said Anslow.