Suffolk: Colleagues mourn former Co-op boss

A FORMER Ipswich and Norwich Co-op chief executive has died after battling a lung condition.

Bill Brown of Brookhill Way, Rushmere St Andrew, passed away at Ipswich Hospital on Thursday aged 67.

Tributes have poured in from former colleagues who described him as “a man of the highest integrity”.

He joined the company in 1960 at his local society in Northumberland. He graduated from the Co-operative college in 1966 and worked in several departments before moving to the Ipswich Co-op in 1976.

Initially he was responsible for over 40 local food stores and supermarkets, but was later promoted to chief executive in 1984.

Roger Grosvenor, Group General Manager Trading for the East of England Co-operative, said: “As a true co-operator in every sense of the word, Bill had time for everyone he met and was fundamental in making the Ipswich and Norwich Co-operative Society one of the strongest and well revered Co-operatives in the UK.

“It is sad that Bill has not had the full opportunity to enjoy his retirement, I feel he has been cheated by ill health as his chance for enjoying his well-earned retirement after giving his entire working life to the Co-operative movement”.

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Former colleague and assistant general manager Bill Knowles said: “Bill was very hard working and worked his way up from the shop floor.

“He understood the customers in every shop because he talked to them as well as having an eye for business strategy.

“He was a good friend for many years, a good colleague and a businessman whom I admired greatly.

“He was a man of the highest integrity, incisive and with a clear sense of direction in business who set high standards but his greatest strength was his willingness to listen to people.”

Bill, who was suffering from a degenerative lung illness, leaves behind his wife Doreen and two children.