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In partnership with The Co‑operative Bank

Central England Co-operative – putting co-op values into action

Case study

30th June 2021
What is a co-op?
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A community-based consumer co-op, Central England Co-operative employs 7,800 people across some 430 outlets – and has more than 165,000 active members.

One of the largest independent retailers in the UK, it operates across 16 counties from the Midlands to the east coast, trading through more than 250 food stores, 100-plus funeral homes, filling stations, florists, masonry outlets, a crematorium and a coffin factory.

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It’s our vision to be the UK’s best consumer co-operative by making a real difference to our members and our communities. We’re committed to putting co-operative values and principles into practice in everything we do.
– CEO Debbie Robinson

“Our purpose is to inspire communities to create a sustainable co-operative society for all. A strong and successful society that is invested in protecting the environment and the wellbeing of our colleagues, members, and customers.”

Putting its co-operative values into action, Central England Co-op has taken great strides to keep its colleagues and customers safe during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Protecting and supporting our co-workers and communities has been our number one focus, not only through immediate safety measures but through eco-friendly home delivery and new channels to make funeral arrangements,” Debbie says.

The retailer supports its communities in a number of ways. One of those is through its long-standing relationship with charity FareShare Midlands – to help put food on the table of families across the region.

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Central England Co-op won the Leading Co-op of the Year 2021
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Our unsold best before and non-food goods are donated to the FareShare distribution centre, then delivered to those in need in our local communities. Over the past seven years, this has seen enough food donated to create over 2.1 million meals per year.
– CEO Debbie Robinson
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Through its Community Dividend Fund, the society also provides vital support to good causes, groups and charities. The fund was recently re-launched after being temporarily repurposed to support those impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. During that time, 116 good causes shared over £175,000.

Donating between £100 to £5,000 to groups every two months, the fund is designed to help projects that aim to support access to food, health and wellbeing, inclusion and the environment.

“Inclusion and sustainability are central to our values,” says Debbie. “We’ve signed the Business in the Community (BITC) Race at Work Charter. We’re also rolling out plans for more diverse products and services, as well as greater member benefits for all.

“And we care about the environment. We’re the only food retailer to achieve the Carbon Trust triple standard three years in a row. We plan to be carbon neutral by 2030.

“Putting these co-operative values and principles into practice, we can help our communities build back better after the Covid-19 pandemic and create a fairer, more sustainable future for all.”

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