Co-op reveals different store models for different parts of Suffolk as it strives to meet challenge of modern retail

Co-op store in Meredith Rd, which is being sold to McColl's. Ipswich.

Co-op store in Meredith Rd, which is being sold to McColl's. Ipswich. - Credit: Gregg Brown

The East of England Co-op remains committed to its “home town” in Ipswich despite changes which have seen some of its stores close or take on new identities.

That’s the message from two of the directors of the company that remains determined to stay at the heart of the community despite unprecedented change in the nation’s retailing habits over the last decade.

At the same time the Co-op has been building or taking over other new stores in other towns in the region – and is earning a growing reputation for its locally-sourced products.

Roger Grosvenor and Nick Denny are joint chief executives of the East of England Co-Op.

This month is seeing the transfer of the Meredith Road Co-op, in the heart of the Whitton estate in Ipswich, to national convenience store chain Robert McColl.

Meanwhile the Co-op has bought the former Budgens supermarket in the heart of Woodbridge and is set to relaunch later this month as an up-market store with a huge range of locally-sourced food and drink.

Mr Grosvenor said: “I’ve been in retailing for 40 years and I’ve never known a time when things have changed so much and they are continuing to evolve. We’re investing in our stores and are continuing with that programme – we’re currently about 18 months into a three-year project to upgrade all our stores.”

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Some stores had closed, been sold or converted into a new use – but there had also been openings.

“It’s not a ‘one-size fits all’ issue for us – every store meets a specific need, you can’t just replicate what works in one place everywhere else.”

Mr Grosvenor said the new store in Woodbridge would become a flagship for the Co-op’s locally-sourced produce. It would have a much wider range than other stores in the town.

“Budgens had about four local suppliers – we shall have about 65 suppliers sending local produce into the store. We’ve even got sushi from Earl Soham!”