"We have a fantastic community of loyal members and customers who always have been and always will be what makes our co-op what it is."

Frank Moxon, President

A word from our Chief Executive Officer, Doug Field OBE

Finance update

Download a copy of our Annual Report and Financial Statements for the year ended 27 January 2024, here

Board of Directors

The Board of Directors is responsible for determining the objectives, strategy and policy of our co-op in conjunction with the Chief Executive Officer and Senior Leadership team, who are responsible for the day-to-day management of our co-op. 

Advice on governance matters is provided in the first instance by the Society Secretary, with further professional support available from Co-operatives UK and external lawyers as appropriate. 

In 2023, 12 candidates stood for election to fill five vacancies on the Board of Directors at the Annual Members’ Meeting (AMM). At the AMM in May 2023, Emma Howard, Mandy Errington and Maria Veronese were re-elected to the Board. We were pleased to also welcome new Board members, Lesley Dolphin (for a four-year term) and Julie Mansfield (for a one-year term). 

Read more about our Board members here

The Senior Leadership team

Day-to-day management of our co-op is delegated by the Directors to the Chief Executive Officer, Doug Field OBE, who is responsible for implementing our strategy within the framework laid down by the Board. 

The Chief Executive Officer is supported in the running of our co-op by six Chief Officers. 

You can read more about our Senior Leadership team here


Evolving our business

Three new Food stores and our first in Cambridgeshire

We opened three new Food stores in 2023 and expanded our grocery business into a new county. 

Our first new Food store of the year opened in Waterbeach in August, and it was the first to open in Cambridgeshire in our 150-year history. The 3,000 square foot store was an immediate success with the local community.

Just three months later, we opened our second store in the county at Cambridge North station. The store, which is ideally positioned to benefit Cambridge North commuters as well as local businesses at the growing One Cambridge Square development, offers hot and cold food to go, a Costa coffee machine, an in-store bakery and a wide selection of fresh and frozen food as well as DPD and InPost parcel services and online delivery through Just Eat.

Finally, in December we opened our newest store outside Chelmsford station in Essex. This store has a strong focus on food to go in order to cater for the 12,300+ busy commuters coming in and out of the city each day. Crowned by a viral TikTok as ‘the UK’s coolest Co-op’ it offers a range of modern features, many of which can also be found in our other new stores, including: fresh iSqueeze orange juice, Fwip ice cream, Shmoo milkshake, Tango Ice Blast and a variety of hot food snacks.  

Waterbeach store opening

Leiston Travel re-opens 

Our Leiston Travel Branch reopened in 2023, and it’s been a pleasure to welcome customers back through our doors to help them plan their dream holiday. 

The branch, which can be found in our Food store in Leiston, made a welcome return to the town after closing during the pandemic in 2021. The decision to bring the business back was made following a boom in holiday bookings across our Travel business over the last few years as well as further growth in the coming years.

New products and local suppliers 

Our Food retail operations team have been busy strengthening our food and drink offering in our stores by working with new and existing local and national suppliers to transform our ranges. 

In our alcohol category we began working with Bury St Edmunds-based, Solsueno Sangria, offering canned Sangria and canned wine company Vinca, which was created during lockdown by three former Suffolk school pupils. We also introduced Drop Bear Beer, helping us grow our low and no alcohol and gluten-free offering. 

In our frozen food category, to keep up with the changing ice cream market and bring our customers a delicious, but also wallet-friendly treat, we launched Lakenham Creamery Aldous ice cream in 500ml tubs. Based in the heart of Norwich, Lakenham Creamery have proudly been producing ice cream for over 100 years and have supplied us for a few of those years. The 500ml tubs are now available in most of our Norfolk stores. 

We launched new partnerships to strengthen our food-to-go offering, including ice cream from Fwip and milkshakes from Shmoo. We also launched Tango Ice Blast machines in two of our new stores. 

In our new Chelmsford and One Cambridge Square stores we launched the Golden Sunrise snacking range, to offer our members and customers a healthy snack alternative, which includes a large selection of packaged seeds and nuts. In December, we launched with two new suppliers to offer products that are compliant with regulations on high fat, salt and sugar products; Everlast sports drinks and Simply Roasted crisps, the latter of which is a local supplier based in Norwich.  

New online shopping services

In December we launched our own online shopping platform and announced a new partnership with rapid delivery service, Just Eat. Initially rolling out in a total of 77 stores across East Anglia the two new online shopping services launched just in time for the colder months, when popping out for essentials is much less appealing.  

This significant investment in eCommerce is thought to have made us the first co-op food retailer in the UK with its own online shopping app.  

From eastofengland.coop/onlineshopping and the app, customers can order their weekly shop and have it delivered at their convenience from 25 of our stores. After being picked and packed, delivery is fulfilled by our delivery partners Gophr, one of the UK’s biggest food delivery networks.  

The launch of rapid delivery with Just Eat means customers can order groceries from their local East of England Co-op and get it delivered to their doors in as little as 20 minutes. Online delivery through Just Eat is available at 53 of our stores, making it easier for customers and members to shop with us. 

More in-store services launched this year 

Our investment in eCommerce this year has seen the launch of five more services to increase our convenience offering for customers. 

In July we launched our partnership with InPost UK, with our first locker opening outside our Coggeshall Food store in Essex. We now have 86 lockers across our Food stores providing our members and customers with a quick, convenient and hassle-free solution to all their parcel needs. 

In August we partnered with one of the UK’s leading parcel delivery companies, DPD, to provide a service for our customers to pick up, return and drop off parcels in our Food stores. The first Food store to offer this service was our Waterbeach store in Cambridgeshire when it opened in August. By September, we’d rolled out DPD across almost all our Food stores. 

In January we launched our partnership with Coinstar UK, giving customers an easy way to turn loose change into cash or to donate it to charity. After an initial trial across five locations, we’re looking forward to rolling this service out across more of our over 125 Food stores across Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire. We’ve also teamed up with Timpson to introduce quick and easy in-store key cutting and instant photo kiosks. Initially launching at two stores each, we’re looking forward to expanding across more locations throughout 2024. 

More than Funeral directors

Our Funeral Services team are more than Funeral directors. What sets us apart from our competition is the care and compassion our colleagues deliver to clients, making sure every tiny detail is looked after. For our 2023 advertising campaign, we explored how our colleagues go above and beyond in delivering an excellent service to clients.  

At the heart of the campaign were two of our Funeral Arrangers and one of our clients talking about how the service our team deliver has made a difference. During the three weeks the campaign ran we reached almost 275,000 people. 

More than Funeral Directors

New development above our Brightlingsea store

In 2023 we completed work on five new properties in Brightlingsea, providing much needed living space for local people. The two-bedroom flats were built above our Station Road Food store in the town and were made available to let.

Brightlingsea flats

Widening our membership appeal

Building our membership 

This year we welcomed over 14,000 new members, many of whom joined as a result of our new store openings in Cambridgeshire and Chelmsford.  

We continued our ‘Member Perks’ scheme, partnering with local companies and organisations to provide exclusive offers for our members.  

Our membership proposition remains under review as we look to provide enticing benefits to becoming an East of England Co-op member, as well as rewarding our existing members.

Customer satisfaction survey

Our programme for collecting feedback from our Food store customers, ‘How did we do?’ continues to receive around 2,000 responses each month – bringing us to a total of more than 58,000 pieces of feedback since launch.  

The feedback allows us to improve the experience we give our customers, with the information shared with our colleagues in-store daily via an app. This means our colleagues can drive the change our customers want to see, from the service received, to the products available.   

Both members and non-members can complete the survey, either via an email link or by scanning a QR code at the till point. As a thank you for taking the time to provide us with feedback, each customer who completes the survey is entered into a prize draw to win £250 each month – with a total of 27 winners as of January 2024. 

Swipe to Win 

Swipe to Win is one way in which we’re able to entice new members, but more importantly, the initiative encourages our members to swipe their membership card each time they shop with us. Each ‘swipe’ of their membership card earns one competition entry. Prizes have included a holiday, a lifetime National Trust subscription and the opportunity to win £500.  

Supporting our community

Community Cares Fund

As a community retailer and a co-operative, supporting others is at the heart of what we do. We’re proud to have over 150 years of history giving back to local communities through our outreach programmes, fundraising and community support initiatives.

Since 2020, our Community Cares Fund has been integral to this, and has enabled us to help brilliant people who work within communities to support others. We’re proud to have been able to directly impact more than 95,000 people so far as a result.

In November we launched a community funding pot of £220,000 to be used in the 2024/25 financial year. This year, for the first time, we were pleased to be able to extend this funding to Cambridgeshire-based groups after opening our first Food stores in the county. Across Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire, local voluntary or community groups, social enterprise organisations (VCSE) or charities were able to apply for grants of between £1,000 and £5,000. We had a record number of applications and are pleased to have awarded grants to 54 charities and community groups across our region.

Angela Carpenter, Community Support Manager at the East of England Co-op, said: “This year, we have changed the focus of the funding, and set clear outcomes for projects to work towards. We hope this will make the fund even more accessible for a wide and diverse range of community projects, with the shared goal of improving the lives of people in our local area. 

Find out more here.

Winter Foodbank support

In December we donated £50,000 to local foodbanks and called on customers to help boost this funding pot.

With recent figures showing the highest ever need for foodbank help (the Trussell Trust network alone distributing three million food parcels in 2023) we want to do all we can to help people in our local areas access the essential food and supplies they need.

Starting at the beginning of December 2023, our winter foodbank fundraising campaign has been a real success, and by the end of January 2024 our generous customers had already donated over £12,000. This will be added to our co-op’s £50,000 donation to provide support to 25 independent, Salvation Army and Trussell Trust foodbanks across Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire. 

Thousands of period products donated with Hey Girls 

In October, we launched a partnership with Hey Girls which has seen free period products stocked in colleague bathrooms at all our stores and branches and at our Central Operations office, Wherstead Park.   

Hey Girls operates on a “buy one, donate one” model – meaning every purchase made by us is matched with a donation to organisations such as foodbanks, homeless shelters and refuges. Through our partnership more than 30,000 boxes of period products are being donated to community organisations. 

Funeral Services collect for those in need across the world

In February our Funeral Services colleagues in Essex collected over 100 bags of donated clothing to provide warmth and comfort for those displaced from war and natural disasters. 

Funeral branches including those in Clacton, Frinton and Manningtree, acted as drop-off points for those wishing to donate unwanted clothing and blankets. The warm items were then distributed by a group of local people to help those who have been left homeless by the war in Ukraine and the earthquake across Turkey and Syria. 

Developing joyful colleagues

New colleague events

This year, we introduced two new colleague events called ‘Year Beginning meeting’ and ‘Golden Quarter meeting’. Scheduled at pivotal points in our trading year, the events were created to bring together managers from across our co-op for a day of collaboration, celebration and information sharing. With presentations from senior leaders, as well as inspirational guest speakers, the events have proven to be a great success, with colleagues finding them informative and motivational.

Changing lives through a commitment to inclusive employment

This year we partnered with Essex Cares Ltd (ECL) to help people in Essex with learning disabilities and autism achieve their ambitions of paid employment. In December, we were pleased to announce that we’d been able to place 11 people into a variety of roles at our co-op, with a 90% success rate in retaining the colleagues appointed through ECL’s Inclusive Employment service, which matches talented individuals to meet the needs of businesses. Thanks to our work with ECL we’ve now committed to becoming a Disability Confident business and we’re now recognised by Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) as a Disability Confident Employer.

Keeping our colleagues safe

Colleague safety is always a priority at our co-op. Our security team works 24/7 to protect our colleagues and branches. In 2024 the team made more than 5,500 branch visits, that’s over 100 per week. 

With state-of-the-art technology our uniquely qualified team works closely with local authorities and agencies including the police service. We find this co-operative way of working is instrumental in achieving arrests and prosecutions and therefore keeping our colleagues safe. We’re pleased to share that, in 2024, our team has worked with local police services to: 

  •  Reduce anti-social behaviour in our branches
  •  Increase the number of shoplifters that were detained in our branches 
  • Achieve custodial and suspended sentences totalling 1,764 weeks, plus 836 hours of community service. Offenders also recieved Community Behaviour Orders, meaning they are given court orders not to enter our stores.

All our Food store colleagues have access to body worn cameras, acting as a deterrent to anti-social behaviour as well as gathering vital evidence. We’ve also recently introduced headsets for all Food store colleagues, helping our colleagues keep in touch no matter where they are in the store.

Adapting our opening hours 

Following analysis of sales patterns and feedback from our store colleagues, we adjusted our opening hours at many of our Food stores to better reflect member and customer demand.  

We moved closing forward to 10pm, with only a few exceptions where demand for a late-night shop existed, such as at train stations and fuel stations. We also pushed back opening time at some stores to 7am. We believe that, where possible, reducing our opening hours is the right thing to do in order to improve the daily lives of our colleagues, who now benefit from a better work-life balance. 

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion  

In 2021, we established a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Steering Group. Comprised of colleagues from across our co-op, the Steering Group’s objective is to help us on our journey to being a more diverse and inclusive place to work. In the past 12 months, the group have focused on:

  • Recruitment – including how we support managers with recruitment, whilst having DEI in mind. This was supported by our hugely successful Funeral Services external recruitment campaign. 
  • Improving our understanding of our colleagues – to better understand the diversity of our own colleagues, so we can take meaningful and relevant action to benefit everyone who works for us, we invited colleagues to complete a diversity survey. This is open to all colleagues and mandatory to all new colleagues joining our co-op. 
  • Important calendar dates – promoting key cultural and religious events and festivals, raising awareness and increasing knowledge. For example, we actively engaged with Pride Month in June to promote the visibility of our LGBTQ+ colleagues and highlight the availability of support for LGBTQ+ colleagues and their families. 
  • Wellbeing – working with teams across our co-op on wellbeing programmes to provide our colleagues with the best possible support at work, including the launch of a new bereavement policy and supporting resources. 

Our Co-op, Your Voice

In January 2023, 68% of our colleagues completed our annual colleague survey, Our Co-op, Your Voice, a good increase on the participation rate from when we last ran the survey in 2021. Repeating the survey gave us a great opportunity to look at the impact of the things we’ve done over the last year and find opportunities to improve the daily lives of our colleagues. 

The survey showed improvements in how our colleagues feel valued and cared for, and there were also improvements seen in colleague benefits, working relationships, the working environment and opportunities to develop, with fairness and inclusion being the highest scoring category.

Ideas and Suggestions 

No one knows our business better than our colleagues. They live and breathe our co-op and have an invaluable perspective on what’s working and what we could do better. That’s why in October we launched a new internal Ideas & Suggestions scheme, inviting our colleagues to share their thoughts – big or small – on how we could make a pound, save a pound, and be the best place to work in the East of England.  

Our colleagues rose to the challenge and in less than four months they shared over 250 ideas and suggestions. All submissions are carefully reviewed and considered and will form an important part of our continued development and improvement.  

Winter support

To help our colleagues navigate the ongoing cost of living crisis, we were proud to repeat our winter support package this year, once again offering all colleagues an enhanced 25% discount on food purchases over the winter period, as well as £50 to spend in our Food stores. This gift was a small token of thanks for their service and dedication and recognises the difference they make every day to communities across our region.


Twenty apprenticeship pathways, spanning our family of businesses, were available to our colleagues this year. In 2023, our apprentices learned valuable new skills on and off the job while being paid the going rate for their role. Sixteen colleagues completed their apprenticeships and graduated in 2023.

Talent and development 

At the East of England Co-op, we strive to be the best place to work. As well as creating a positive, safe working environment, we invest in our colleagues to help them to progress in their careers and achieve their full potential, whether in Food retail, Funeral Services, Property investment, Travel, Security, Stonemasonry, or our support functions.  

To support our ambitions, in September this year we appointed a Talent Acquisition and Development Leader to lead our newly formed Talent Acquisition and Development team.

As a result of the team’s work, our co-op saw its lowest colleague turnover rate since 2020 and the average time to hire dropped from 70 days in 2020 to just 19 days in 2023.

In September, we commenced a wide-ranging programme called ‘Effective Conversations’. Firmly founded in neuroscience, it’s a learning programme that is skills based and delivered via a mix of virtual workshops, videos and resources, then put into practice through a series of practical challenges. It will equip our people leaders to really get to know their colleagues and to have great conversations about performance and development. 


Energy and carbon reporting 

Although we achieved a 4% reduction in our electricity consumption, the related Carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions increased due to changes in the UK Grid electricity mix. An increase in grid carbon intensity occurred due to a fall in renewable energy which was met by increased generation from gas-fired power stations. This meant that each kWh of grid electricity used equated to approximately 7% more CO2e than in the previous year.

We also saw an increase in the CO2e from fugitive refrigerants compared to the previous year due to equipment failure, responsible for around 80-85% of the increase in our total emissions. We continue to replace older refrigerants with lower global warming potential (GWP) alternatives and operate a robust preventative maintenance programme to reduce the potential for equipment failure. We will continue to invest in projects that will reduce energy use throughout our operations and remove gas-and oil-fired heating at point of refurbishment.

Our emissions data is reported in line with the UK government’s Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) policy and is calculated using the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol – Corporate Standard with reference to UK Government GHG Conversion Factors for Company Reporting 2023 and in-house tools.

Using this method, our CO2e emissions in metric tonnes for the past two financial years are as follows:

Source 2023/24 (metric tonnes)
Electricity 7,040.23
Natural Gas 185.48
Gas Oil 8.27
Kerosene 22.09
Transport 335.65
Fugitive Refrigerant Gas 3,204.49
Total 10,796


10,796 tonnes of CO2e is equivalent to 27.3 tCO2e per £1m turnover. 

Energy use from electricity, gas and transport fuel

Electricity – This is the total amount of electricity used at our commercial and operational premises, excluding on-site generated renewable energy. 

Natural Gas – The total amount of Natural Gas used at our commercial premises. 

Gas Oil and Kerosene – A very small number of our premises have oil-fired heating. We’re looking to replace these. 

Transport – This is the amount of energy in the form of fuel used for transport on Society business, excluding deliveries by others. 

Source Energy use kWh
Electricity 33,997,538.36
Natural Gas 1,013,942.00
Gas Oil 283.07
Kerosene 844.19
Transport (Scope 1) 1,338,649.14
Transport (Scope 2) 1,033.40
Transport (Scope 3) 79,003.54


Beers, Wines and Spirits fridge switch-off

In 2022, we introduced a trial to reduce the length of time our beers, wines and spirits (BWS) fridges were switched on, only powering the chillers between 2pm and 7pm each day (4pm on Sundays, where trading restrictions apply). This year we’ve extended our trial even further, from 11 stores to 50 – the equivalent of 102 chillers. 

By switching on the chillers only at peak sales times, we can make significant savings in both energy costs and the amount of CO2e being emitted, whilst still meeting the needs of our members and customers. 

We believe that by reducing the time chillers are switched on in these 50 Food stores, we could save each year: 

  • 243,236 kWhs – enough to power 70 average UK homes for a year
  • Up to £80,000 in energy costs
  • And 42 tonnes of CO2e. 

Following the successful extended trial, we’ll be looking to roll this out across our entire estate as refrigeration and technology is updated. 

The power of solar energy 

Recent refurbishment of the solar array at our Coggeshall food store has improved the estimated annual generation by 5000kWhs to 24,000kWhs a year, equivalent to around 9% of the branch’s annual consumption. The combined generation capability of the Society’s solar panels is now an estimated 303,000 kWhs per annum (potentially saving 63 tonnes of CO2e emissions). Equal to 1% of the Society’s current electricity need generated from just eight branches.  

The viability of solar panels and other environmentally-friendly measures are now considered as part of the design process for all our new stores and developments, and we are currently reviewing the Society’s existing trading portfolio’s suitability for the installation of further roof-mounted solar. 

Seven new Carbon Charter awards  

The Carbon Charter recognises organisations that are working hard to monitor and reduce their carbon emissions. As a Carbon Charter Pathfinder Partner, we’ve been proud to be associated with the scheme for many years, and to have supported several of our Food stores, as well as a number of local food and drink producers, to achieve their accreditations. 

This year we supported a further six East of England Co-op Food stores to achieve their first accreditations. We were also pleased to see eight of our Food stores renew their accreditations.  

One store to receive their first accreditation was Hurstlea Road in Needham Market, Suffolk, with the panel finding the store “exemplary in its energy efficiency”.  

LED lighting 

Over the past year we’ve invested £880,000 in installing approximately 4,000 LED light units and motion sensor switches. The LED lighting is up to 80% more efficient than the fluorescent tubes they replaced, and the motion sensors ensure the lights are only on when needed.




Continued success of Too Good To Go  

In May 2022, we became the largest retailer in the East of England to partner with food saving app, Too Good To Go.  

Supporting our continued efforts to keep edible food in the food chain, last year we saved the equivalent of more than 25,882 meals from going to waste, avoiding 69,881.4kg of CO2e emissions.  

Too Good To Go Magic Bags are available for £3.30 and contain food, ranging from meat and fish to cakes and bread, worth at least three times that value. The food in magic bags is typically nearing its Use By or Sell By date, or is surplus stock, that would otherwise be thrown away.