Six inspirational retail heroes, who have displayed outstanding leadership in providing food and essentials to the community, are celebrating after securing permanent roles as store managers at Central England Co-op.
The colleagues all have been promoted through the ‘Leading the Way’ programme which gives team leaders within the retailer’s food stores the opportunity to progress to store manager roles.
All six colleagues have shown incredible drive and determination to reach their goal and have had to overcome significant challenges as they dealt with the unprecedented demands and changes to the normal way of working during these uncertain times.
The six new store managers and the stores they are now leading are:
Natalie Smith, Coppice Road Food Store, Arnold, Nottingham
Emma Bonsor, Mansfield Road Food Store, Skegby, Nottinghamshire
Claire Sheppard, Littlemoor Food Store, Chesterfield, Derbyshire
Carl Mart, Hartshay Hill Petrol Filing Station, Ripley, Derbyshire
Tim Pickard, Alfreton Petrol Filling Station, Derbyshire
Will Etherington, Keresforth Hill, Kingstone, Barnsley, Yorkshire
Among the new store managers is Natalie Smith (pictured), who has permanently taken the helm at the retailer’s Coppice Road Food Store in Arnold, Nottingham, after a successful secondment.
She said, “It is exciting to be leading my own store. The Leading the Way programme was great and it was nice to meet other colleagues on the same journey and being able to compare notes and support each other.
“It was been somewhat daunting because of the circumstances which are just something we could never have imagined.
“Everything changed overnight to something that had never been seen before, so it was challenging enough for the most experienced store managers, never mind those just finding their feet. It was like having the rug pulled from under you.
“However, although it has been a challenge, we have managed. Within the first couple of weeks I lost 50% of colleagues but the support from our operations team and other stores who had not been as badly affected to help share the burden was fantastic – it was true co-operation.”
Claire Koziol, Group Manager West at Central England Co-op, hailed the efforts of the six new store managers and said it was great to see new leaders flourish despite the current challenges.
She said: “Each and every one of the six colleagues have worked incredibly hard on their own personal development, displaying fantastic leadership and loyalty to the Society.
“They have all done some great work during these uncertain times and fully merit the opportunity to lead their own stores. They have shown they are really passionate about the business and about retail and that has shown through all the recent challenges.
“It can be a bit daunting to lead a team of people when you have been used to being led, particularly through a period as unprecedented as this but they have truly risen to the challenge.
“We are delighted that we are pressing on with recruiting our next intake of future leaders into the Leading the Way programme despite current restrictions, looking at solutions to run the programme remotely which is really positive.”