Central England Co-operative appoints new Chief Executive

Central England Co-operative has announced the appointment of Debbie Robinson as the Society’s new Chief Executive; a vacancy created due to Martyn Cheatle’s announcement to retire in May 2019.

Central England is one of the largest independent retail co-operative societies in the UK and employs over 8,000 people. The Society’s principal areas of activity are food, funeral services, and property investment, with over 400 trading outlets across 16 counties.

Debbie Robinson has held directorships for food retailers specialising in store innovation, brand strategy and global development and joins the Society from SPAR where she has been UK Managing Director since 2011. She has a strong background in retail, built up over 30 years with the likes of Co-op Group, Marks & Spencer and WHSmith among others.

In her new role of Chief Executive at Central England Co-operative Debbie will be responsible for developing the strategic and commercial direction of the Society.

Elaine Dean, Society President, said of the appointment: “Central England Co-operative is delighted to welcome Debbie Robinson at a time of growth and development for our Society.

“Debbie is no stranger to co-operative ethics and values, having previous experience at a senior level within the co-operative movement. She has a sound track record of success and is highly respected in the retail sector.”

Elaine added: “This is the first time in the Society’s history that we have had a female Chief Executive and the Board is confident in her ability to take us forward as a dynamic and independent co-operative society. We look forward to working with Debbie as we build on our strong foundations and plan for the future.”

Departing Chief Executive Martyn Cheatle said: “I am incredibly proud of the Society and our colleagues, all of whom have contributed to the continued success Central England Co-operative has worked so hard to achieve in the time I have been Chief Executive.  I wish Debbie all the very best for her future with the best independent retail Co-operative in the UK.”

Commenting on her new role, Debbie Robinson said: “I am delighted to be joining a progressive and truly co-operative society. I look forward to building on the fantastic work Martyn has done and working with the team to ensure Central England Co-operative fulfils its ambitions and potential, making a real difference for our members and the communities we serve.”

Debbie added: “My vision for the future of Central England Co-operative is to grow sustainably and make the most of the Society’s key USP; our co-operative principles.”

Added to her retail expertise, Debbie also sits on the boards of the Association of Convenience Stores and the British Retail Consortium.