Debbie Robinson has been appointed CEO of Central England Co-operative, following the announcement that Martyn Cheatle will be retiring in May.
Ms Robinson, who has previous experience at the Co-op Group, will join the society in the spring from Spar, where she has been UK managing director since 2011.
She has held directorships for food retailers specialising in store innovation, brand strategy and global development and has over 30 years of experience in retail with Marks & Spencer, WH Smith and others.
In her new role she will be responsible for developing the strategic and commercial direction of Central England, which has 400 trading outlets across 16 counties.
“I am delighted to be joining a progressive and truly co-operative society,” she said.
“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.”
She added that her vision for the future of the society is to “grow sustainably and make the most of the society’s key USP; our co-operative principles”.
Elaine Dean, society president, said Central England was “delighted” to welcome Ms Robinson at a time of growth and development for the 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.
“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.”
Mr 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.”
Ms Robinson sits on the boards of the Association of Convenience Stores and the British Retail Consortium, and outside of work has many hobbies and interests in the art and music world. She is a keen marathon runner and has completed numerous charity cycle rides including the convenience & wholesale charity cycles for Mines Advisory Group.