Farewell Mr Brown

WILLIAM Brown, chief executive of Ipswich and Norwich Co-operative Society, has retired after more than twenty-eight years' service with the society. Although Mr Brown continues in the role until Friday, a retirement party was held for the chief executive at the Carr Street branch in Ipswich yesterday morning.

WILLIAM Brown, chief executive of Ipswich and Norwich Co-operative Society, has retired after more than twenty-eight years' service with the society.

Although Mr Brown continues in the role until Friday, a retirement party was held for the chief executive at the Carr Street branch in Ipswich yesterday morning.

Bill Brown has been at the helm of the Ipswich and Norwich Co-op for 20 years.

He started work in 1960 with his local Society in the small mining village of Stakeford, Northumberland. He went to the Co-operative College in the 1963 to 1964 and 1965-1966, graduating in 1966 he was awarded the NACO Gold Medal for management studies.


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Over the next nine years he gained experience, gaining senior management status in 1976. He then moved to the Ipswich Co-operative Society as food trades officer in 1976.

In that role he was initially responsible for all food retailing activities including more than 40 local food stores and supermarkets.

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In that role he worked under two prominent chief executives - Ron Edmondson and Leo O'Connor. Following the death of Leo O'Connor in 1984 he was appointed chief executive officer and secretary.

During his time at Ipswich he has led the Society through a period of steady development and growing financial strength. In 1993, the Society merged with the Norwich Co-operative Society to become one of the major independent consumer co-operative societies in the country with interests in food retailing, department stores, motor dealerships, pharmacies, opticians, dairy processing and funeral services. In 2003, the Society reported a turnover of £273 million and with more than 3,000 employees the business is now one of the region's largest employers.

Mr Brown has also devoted considerable time and energy to the wider co-operative movement. He has served as a director of the Co-operative Wholesale Society (now the Co-operative Group) since 1987 and was a director of the Co-operative Insurance Society (CIS) for 15 years, retiring in June 2003 as deputy chairman.

Mr Brown says that he has greatly enjoyed his co-operative career and owes a debt of thanks to a number of people who have helped and encouraged him over the years. He says he is very privileged to have led an excellent team at the Ipswich and Norwich Society and has made many friends. He is pleased to hand the Society over in "fairly robust" condition to Richard Samson, who he looks forward to welcoming to the Society as his successor.

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