Central England Co-operative has opened a new store in Lichfield following a £3m investment, with a range of new features for members and customers, and collaborations with other UK co-operatives.
This includes a zero-waste refill station that will allow shoppers to only buy what they need and cut down on food packaging and waste. The scheme has been developed with advice from Suma, an ethical wholesale worker co-operative; Suma also supplies items such as pulses, cereals, nuts and dried fruits for the station.
Suma is also working on a similar project with Channel Islands Co-op for their new St Helier store.
Johnny Spencer, the national account manager at Suma who worked with Central England on the project, said: “Zero waste is a big trend for many retailers at the moment. More and more customers are looking to cut unnecessary plastic out of their shopping, and retailers themselves want greener stores and supply chains.
“At Suma we’ve seen a growing number of dedicated zero stores open over the last few years, and now we’re starting to see really forward-thinking retailers like Central England Co-operative incorporate refill stations into convenience stores.
“Central England Co-op have set the bar high with their large, well-designed and well-stocked refillery. Putting principle six into action, we’ve worked closely together to get the offer right, and I think we’re all pleased with such a fantastic outcome.
“We’ll be watching how it develops, as I’m sure many other retailers will too. There’s no doubt that Central England Co-op are at the start of a trend that will only grow.”
Central England is now also stocking tea and coffee products from Fairtrade co-operative Revolver.
Chief Executive Debbie Robinson was on hand to cut the opening ribbon at the store, which also features a hot soup station, free hot and cold water refill station, eco-friendly fridges and emission free home delivery via the Snappy App.
“We are delighted to have been able to finally open the doors to our flagship Boley Park store and welcome members and customers to showcase all the new and exciting features for the very first time,” said store manager Jamie Joyce, adding that the project is the biggest single investment on a retail site in Central England Co-op’s history.
“You only have to look around it to see that it is different from anything we have ever done before.
We have new innovations such as our refill station as well as hundreds of products to give people the choice of more local suppliers or access to growing ranges such as vegan.”
New internal and external designs feature bespoke artwork highlighting Lichfield landmarks by local artist Chris Day, alongside artwork by Lichfield City FC Girls under 12s showing what they felt best represents their city.
The store will also continue its long-term relationship with Lichfield Food Bank by having an in-store collection point for people to make donations. The retailer is marking the opening by presenting the food bank with £250 in vouchers. The £3m project also includes a large unit that will house a gym and two further retail units.