Dame Janet Paraskeva appointed Southern Co-op chair

Southern Co-op has announced the appointment of Dame Janet Paraskeva as the society’s new chair, succeeding Mark Ralf who has completed his maximum six year term in post.

“I’m delighted to take on this role,” she said. “I’ll be working with colleagues across the society to build on achievements to date and continuing to deliver a purpose-led, member-owned business working together for the benefit of our communities.”

Southern celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2023, and today has nearly 400 food, funeral, franchise, burial grounds, crematoria and Starbucks coffee branches as well as a food and drink range dedicated to local producers.

Dame Janet, who lives on the Isle of Wight, will now lead the board and work with the society’s leadership team on driving commercial success while championing climate and wider sustainability initiatives. Her other current responsibilities include chairing the Government Legal Department and Primary Eye Care Services, the lead provider of NHS eye care services.

Welcoming Dame Janet, Southern Co-op CEO Mark Smith also paid tribute to Mark Ralf. “We’re very grateful to Mark for his insightful leadership that included Southern Co-op being awarded HM, the late Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Sustainable Development in 2022,” he said.