Central England welcomes first female CEO

Ms Robinson joined from SPAR UK, where she was UK managing director.

Debbie Robinson has started her new role as chief executive at Central England Co-operative this week.

Appointed in November, Ms Robinson will be responsible for developing the strategic and commercial direction of the society, which boasts 8,000 staff and over 400 trading outlets across 16 counties.

She is taking over from Martyn Cheatle, who has been at the helm of the business since 2010. Under his leadership the society grew with the transfers of Anglia, Shepley and Wooldale societies. The number of food stores grew from 168 to 266, while the funeral division expanded from 81 to 131 branches.

Ms Robinson joined from SPAR UK, where she was UK managing director. Prior to this, she worked at the Co-op Group, Marks & Spencer and WHSmith.

“I am looking forward to meeting colleagues across the Society and becoming a part of an organisation that genuinely makes a positive community impact,” she said.

“I am excited to be joining a progressive, forward-looking business. I look forward to building on the fantastic work Martyn has done and working with the team to ensure Central England Co-op fulfils its ambitions and potential, making a real difference for our customers, members and communities.

“My vision for the future of Central England Co-op is to grow sustainably and make the most of the Society’s key USP: our co-operative values and principles.”

Central England president, Elaine Dean, said: “All at Central England Co-op are delighted to welcome Debbie in her new role as chief executive.

“Debbie joins at an exciting time of growth and development for us and we can’t wait to see how she uses her vast experience in the retail sector, combined with co-operative values, to take us forward as a dynamic and independent co-operative.”