Central England Co-op’s Martyn Cheatle bids fond farewell

‘I’m going to miss the people. Our colleagues are fantastic and so passionate about what we do’

Martyn Cheatle retires as chief executive of Central England Co-operative this week, with the society hailing a legacy of growth and modernisation.

In his nine years at the helm of the co-op, which has 8,000 colleagues across 16 counties, Mr Cheatle supported significant investment of over £300m, which has grown the number of food stores from 168 to 266 and funeral homes from 81 to 131.

Other developments include the launch of a food redistribution project; raising millions for corporate charities including Newlife and Dementia UK, and ensuring that there are now food banks in over 90% of stores.

He also oversaw the society becoming the first UK retailer to gain all four Carbon Trust standards and saw it twice named Leading Co-operative of the Year by sector body Co-operatives UK.

Looking back over his time in the role, he said: “I am pleased to have overseen significant investment and growth. We have merged with other co-ops and ensured we support people at the heart of local communities.

“Our strong financial performance has also enabled us to continue to put membership and community at the centre of everything we do. It has also allowed us to go from just one new site opening a year to a significant new store opening programme.”

Mr Cheatle joined Central England in 2001 as head of finance, before being appointed deputy chief executive in 2005. He took the role of chief executive of the then Midlands Co-op in 2010, following the retirement of John Fitzgerald.

He now plans to travel with his wife Alison and to do volunteering work.

“I’m going to miss the people,” he said. “Our colleagues are fantastic and so passionate about what we do. I know that our success is down to our colleagues, not me – that’s why I’ve always been focused on making Central England Co-op a great place to work.”

He has been succeeded by Debbie Robinson, who has joined from Spar where she was UK managing director.