Richard Pennycook visiting The co-operative Food store in Buckfastleigh

Richard Pennycook our Group Chief Executive writes this piece about his visit to stores, branches and suppliers when he went on the road in March 2016.


Richard Pennycook, CEO The Co-operative Group“It’s always good to get out of the office.

On Tuesday March 8th I spent the day in Devon in the South West of England meeting colleagues from Funeralcare and Food and visiting one of our most important suppliers in the region.

Investment and jobs

Before I set off we added up the investment we’re making in the South West and it comes to £12m over the next three years. That includes opening 10 new Food stores this year and 30 new Funeral homes by 2018. The Food stores will bring 250 Co-op jobs and the new Funeral homes a further 60. It’s a clear sign of our progress and our confidence in the future.

I was pleased to see the government’s business minister, Anna Soubry, praising our commitment to the South West too:

“I’m thrilled to see the Co-op creating jobs for local people. Investment like this powers our national economy and benefits local communities.”

Pride and enthusiasm

Meeting our colleagues at Buckfastleigh Food store and Plympton Funeralcare, both near Plymouth, I saw wonderful examples of how we are at the very heart of local communities.

At Buckfastleigh, judging by the sales figures, our customers are as enthusiastic about us as our colleagues. At Plympton it was similar story – colleagues rooted in the community and passionate about the service they provide.

In Newton Abbott near Exeter I saw our Truly Irresistible ice-cream coming off the production line at Yeo Valley Family Farm. Nearly 20% of their ice-cream is made for us. They also make all of our Truly Irresistible yogurts.

It’s not surprising our relationship with Yeo Valley is so strong – we share so many values. They support local dairy farmers, they have strong links with the local community and they use renewable energy to heat their buildings. It’s another strong story we can tell about our products and the people we choose to work with.

So it was a good day for me, another reminder of what makes our people, our services and our products special through being Co-op.

We made this short film about the trip and next week you’ll hear from Rachel, Luke, Ollie and some of the other great people I met in Devon.”

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