Top business name to retire

ONE of the largest and best-known businesses in Suffolk is today about to start the hunt for a new boss after its chief executive announced his retirement.

By Paul Geater

ONE of the largest and best-known businesses in Suffolk is today about to start the hunt for a new boss after its chief executive announced his retirement.

William Brown has been chief executive of Ipswich Co-op for 20 years - and has worked for the society since 1976.

He announced today that he is to retire later in the year, and the society is about to begin the search for his successor.


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During his time in office, Mr Brown has overseen a major growth in the business.

The largest single development came in 1993 when the Ipswich Co-operative Society merged with its sister society in Norwich.

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Although it was seen as a merger, the leading push came from Ipswich and Mr Brown and the Carr Street team took on the dominant roles in the new organisation.

He has also overseen a transformation in the neighbourhood supermarkets - the cornerstone of the Co-op's success in the area.

There were fears many of these could have closed when superstores opened during the 1980s and 1990s, but they were re-invented as community stores open from early in the morning to late at night seven days a week - encouraging customers to use them for "top-up" purchases between trips to large superstores.

"We like our local stores to be more than just shops - they should be a part of the community where neighbours meet, news is spread and a sense of local belonging is nurtured," he said.

"It has been a pleasure to serve the Soceity for so long and to ensure that through commercial success we have been able to achieve our community objectives."

Mr Brown is also a director of the Co-operative Group and was a director of the Co-operative Insurance Society for 15 years until he retired from that last June.

Ipswich and Norwich Co-operative Society operates:

74 foodstores.

Three department stores.

Five home stores.

Eight pharmacies.

Two optical practices.

15 funeral offices.

It also owns a processing diary.

It runs the Sterling Motor Group with 11 dealerships.

It employs 3,000 people.

Last year's turnover was £273 million.

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