Central Co-op can trace its history all the way back to the mid-19th century, when the modern co-operative movement was taking off. Today, it exists as the second-largest co-operative in the UK, having assumed its current form following the merger of Anglia Regional Co-operative Society and Midlands Co-operative Society back in 2013.
At the heart of Central Co-op’s operations is its retail offering, consisting of more than 250 convenience stores. On the other side of the business is the funeral division, comprising 180 funeral homes, a crematorium, three stone masonry outlets and a coffin factory. That’s without even mentioning the organisation's property arm, responsible for buying, selling and maintaining thousands of buildings.
In 2021, Central Co-op unveiled its new purpose: to ‘create a sustainable society for all’. This ethos now stretches right across the business, impacting decision-making and actions at every level of all departments.
That includes in the field of procurement, headed up by Paul Lockwood.
“Within that new strapline there are numerous themes,” explains Lockwood. “There’s the environment and sustainability; there’s self-funding; there’s inclusion; and there’s self-help as well.
“It’s amazing how, more than 150 years after the first co-ops were started, their core values are still just as relevant today.”
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