How about this for an extra dividend? British company The Co-operative Group beat a host of technical innovative companies to snaffle Citrix's Innovation award, pipping runners-up O'Neill Europe and Perfetti van Melle.

The prize is awarded to the organisation that uses Citrix products in a particularly transformative and noteworthy ways resulting in significant business innovation and IT simplicity. The Co-op won the award for its transformational programme, involving the roll-out of server virtualisation and desktop virtualisation, leading to establishment of a culture of hot-desking. The transformation has been put in place to prepare the company for a move to a new Manchester office in 2013.

According to Dave Murrell, the Co-op's head of servers, storage and desktop services, the HR department only came to him with the plans for flexible working after the virtualisation project was planned, but the two proposals neatly dovetailed. The main drive towards desktop virtualisation was the need to keep energy costs down, although there would also be a significant cost saving in other costs in a thin client approach. "We're looking at total savings of £1.5m per year for the next five years," said Murrell.

The Co-op virtualisation project is a major undertaking, involving 3,500 XenDesktop clients and 2,100 hot desks, said Murrell. He added that he wanted the project completed before the move to the new HQ goes ahead.

The company runs hypervisors from VMware, Citrix and Microsoft within the organisation. "We started with VMware, as most people did, but we undertook a thorough business appraisal of the options and Hyper-V was the clear winner, VMware was too expensive."

As for winning the award, Murrell said it was "a complete shock. There are lots of innovative companies out there and I didn't think we'd win."