Ipswich firm celebrates ‘huge accolade’ after winning contract to run Co-op coffee shops

From left Ian Surtees, chief executive of Vertas, and Mark Pettigrew, of the Co-op Picture: JO LARD

From left Ian Surtees, chief executive of Vertas, and Mark Pettigrew, of the Co-op Picture: JO LARDEN/VERTAS - Credit: Archant

A Suffolk facilities management firm has scooped a contract with the national Co-op group to re-launch 10 of its coffee shops.

Ipswich-based Vertas Group's commercial catering arm, Churchill Catering, has been awarded the concession deal for the revamped and refitted cafés, which will operate under the new brand name '& Coffee'.

The shops will be redesigned to act as a community hub, stocking local produce and offering tailored food menus for breakfast and lunch.

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Vertas boss Ian Surtees securing the contract with the Manchester-based chain was a "huge accolade" for the firm, putting it firmly on the map as a nationwide partner in the retail catering sector.

"Co-op is one of Great Britain's most trusted brands so it's a wonderful honour to play our part in that success continuing. We are looking forward to working side by side with the in-store managers to create community hubs that provide more than just a great cup of coffee," he said.

Winning the business had taken "a lot of teamwork, being transparent and open from day one and the track record Churchill Catering has in running these types of contracts", he said.

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The first coffee shop will be at the Ridgeway, Plymouth store in August, and the rollout programme will continue to the end of October, arriving in Heathfield, Holmfirth, Hove, Inverness, Louth, Peacehaven, Ryde, Wadebridge, and Wickford.

Churchill, which was acquired by the Vertas Group in 2018, has a long tradition of working in partnership with business and industry, police forces, country parks and leisure spots. It currently operates tourist cafés for Forestry England, and Forestry and Land Scotland, staff restaurants for police constabularies in East Anglia and catering for council-run leisure facilities nationally.

Mark Pettigrew, director of innovation and format at the Co-op, said: "We want the coffee shops to be a place for the community to meet and enjoy a range of quality drinks and snacks, all under the new '& Coffee' banner. We're really excited to be partnering with an expert in this field and to be able to offer our customers new reasons to visit us as we deliver a great new coffee experience."

Vertas employs 3,000 staff across 450 sites and in a large range of sectors. The eight companies in the group are: Churchill Catering, Diamond View, IEM, Oakpark Security, Schools' Choice, Snackpax, Vertas Environmental and Verse Facilities Management.