Central England Co-op has revealed it has invested over £8 million and created dozens of new jobs as part of major expansion plans during 2021 – despite the ongoing challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic and supply chain disruption.
Throughout the year the Society has opened three new food stores, a new coffee shop and florists as well as relaunching more than 40 food stores following a major refit programme.
The major development programme has seen investment in the following areas: Cambridgeshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Norfolk, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and the West Midlands.
The food stores now offer shoppers a more expansive range of products and are fitted out with pioneering new energy efficient refrigeration technologies and LED lighting to minimise environmental impact, while all stores are powered by 100% renewable energy.
Many of the stores also include enhanced food to go sections, indoor and outdoor seating, bike repair stations and customer toilets, with rollouts of self-scan till points and a second installation of a zero waste refill station (in Littleover, Derbyshire) with more planned for 2022.
A new coffee shop was opened at the Society’s Boley Park Food Store in Lichfield, the second with the Insomnia Coffee Company as franchise partner, which created a modern and stylish coffee shop to further enhance the Society’s flagship development in the city.
Links also continued to be forged with the local community via inviting local schools to design special pieces of artwork that have now been placed on the inside or outside of the stores.
Store Manager Natalie Smith said: “All of us here at Central England Co-op across our trading area are proud to be part of such great communities and the investment in new and revamped, more modern food stores in the last 12 months has given everyone a real boost in these uncertain times.”
The Society’s funeralcare business launched a brand new florists within the Wildwood Food Store in Stafford, while the major investment in 2021 saw it welcome 50 new homes and two vehicle logistics sites following an agreement with the Midcounties Co-operative, extending Central England Co-op’s offering to other areas of the Midlands, the Southwest and Southeast of England.
Further investment is planned for the funeral business over the coming 12 months, while an ambitious new store and regeneration programme in the Society’s food business is also planned for 2022, including new stores early in the year in Ashby, Leicestershire and Armthorpe, Doncaster.