By Tony Hind, Head of Property, Development and Estates
We know that being able to shop locally is important to people, but we couldn’t predict just how important it would become. Some recent research we did shows that around three quarters of people have relied on their local shop since the pandemic hit.
Even before coronavirus, people wanted to be able shop close to where they live, work and learn. That’s why we made the move to convenience back in 2012. We continue to invest in our stores, opening over 170 new, extended and refitted Co-ops in 2020.
Our new stores have created around 850 jobs for local people. This is on top of the 6,000 temporary posts we created at the beginning of the crisis. Our colleagues in both new and existing stores have done an amazing job serving their communities at a really challenging time.
Here are some of the stories behind those stores:
- Our first new store of the year opened right in the heart of The City of London. It’s one of around 20 stores we’ve opened in London and the South East this year, and the first to stock Yo! Sushi products
- The first new Co-op that we opened after lockdown was in Pilton in Somerset. It’s the only store in the village, providing much-needed services for local people. Pilton is the home of the world-famous Glastonbury festival and Michael Eavis, the festival’s founder, was the guest of honour on opening day. We had a pop-up store at Glastonbury last year and, although this year’s festival was cancelled, we’re looking forward to being back at Worthy Farm as soon as possible
- Our new store in Hope near Wrexham is particularly special. Not only is the village’s name reminiscent of something we all need at the moment, but the site was suggested by a Co-op member through our Suggest a Site scheme
- High Bentham’s Co-op in Lancashire is one of the many stores we’ve extended this year. The existing store was too small for the needs of local people, so we’ve made it a lot bigger. The community will now be able to do much more of their shopping closer to home
- We also refitted over 100 Co-ops, including our store in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, the village with the longest place name in Europe