Speakers

Ayaz Alam

Trading Director, Nisa

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Ayaz is the Trading Director of Nisa and joined the Co-op during the Nisa acquisition. Ayaz is responsible for the proposition in our wholesale business and ensuring that the best of Co-op is clearly visible and successful in Nisa. Ayaz has a trading background with experience in Ambient, Fresh foods and General Merchandise gained over a 20-year career at Asda Wal-Mart. Ayaz brings this experience to our wholesale business helping deliver customer focused ranges to our vast and varied partner base. Since Co-op joined forces with Nisa, Ayaz has been integral to the Co-op giving Nisa retail partners a truly compelling offer, with over retailer partners now able to access over 2,000 of Co-op’s award-winning own-label lines. Married with two young children, Ayaz is a keen golfer and cyclist who has used his hobbies to help raise money for great causes both national & local. Ayaz also plays and active role in the Co-op ‘Rise’ network promoting fair and equal opportunities for ethnic minorities in the workplace

Hazel Appleyard

Head of Category - Produce and Protein, Co-op

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Hazel heads up the new Produce and Protein team after joining the Co-op at the beginning of 2020. Produce and Protein are key categories in a number of Co-op’s strategic priorities outlined in the Closer strategy - such as the value strategy, the meal for tonight mission and the future of food. She has just returned from maternity leave having had her second child in May last year. Before joining Co-op, Hazel spent 15 years at Sainsburys. Here she spent time buying across fresh, chilled, frozen and grocery, before leading teams in category strategy and own brand marketing. Hazel went on to lead the direct marketing team, delivering a big strategic shift in the teams purpose and proposition before returning to trading prior to joining the Co-op.

Adele Balmforth

Buying Director, Ambient, Co-op

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Adele has led the Ambient Commercial Buying team since September 2019 having previously headed up the Fresh Commercial Buying team. Adele spent the early part of her career in commercial buying roles across a number of retailers, covering numerous categories before joining the Coop. The ambition within the team is to continue to deliver compelling, market leading propositions across all channels underpinned by great supplier collaboration.

Sinead Bell

Buying Director, Co-op

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Sinead is an experienced commercial leader with a career spanning Data Sciences, Market Strategy & Planning, Sales roles in Retail & Foodservice as well as Trading Director roles at Tesco before joining Coop in 2019 to lead the Chilled Commercial Team. Sinead is passionate about driving Inclusion and Diversity, internally and externally, so that people feel equal, supported, and valued, able to reach their full potential and to be comfortable being their true selves in the company of others. She is at her happiest collaborating upon courageous end to end strategies and building relationships which engage people in meaningful ways and drive sustainable value. A culture changer, and curious optimist, she is keen to step change how we do business. In her spare time Sinead will be seen chasing her two dogs across a park (unsuccessful at recall!) and planning her next travels with her husband.

Thomas Bradley

Head of Category - Impulse,
Co-op

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Tom joined the Co-Op in 2020 and leads the Impulse Team within Commercial Trading.

The Impulse Team are responsible for a number of key, strategic Ambient categories including Chocolate & Confectionary (All Year Round & Seasonal), Biscuits, Healthy Snacking, Breakfast Cereal and Crisps, Snacks & Nuts. The team adopt a multi-channel focus across Co-Op, FRTS, Wholesale & Online.

Prior to joining the Co-Op, Tom spent 9 years working at ALDI in a number of Operational & Trading roles.

Simon Cairns

Head of Category - Drinks,
Co-op

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Simon joined the Coop in 2013, initially to lead the wine team. Having won a number of international awards for the Co-op wine range and being voted the 7th most influential person in the UK wine industry, his role was expanded to incorporate all of ambient drinks. Focused on putting the customer at the heart of everything that we do, Simon is pioneering a mission led way of thinking about the total drinks category and promoting accessible, mindful inspiration in everything that we do. Prior to his buying career (which includes periods at Morrisons and SPAR), Simon owned his own food retail business in Harrogate which ignited his passion for food and fine wine.

Chris Conway

Head of Digital, Co-op

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Chris has led the Food Digital team at Co-op for 2 years after heading up online at Morrisons, and spending 13 years at Asda, most recently as Senior Director for E-commerce. At Co-op Chris has built their new same day online convenience business from scratch and also pioneered innovations such as Robot deliveries, taxi trials and using digital technology to make lives easier for customers and colleagues.

Paul Cunningham

Buying Director, Fresh, Co-op

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Heading up the Fresh and Chilled Buying Teams at Co-op, Paul has over three years’ experience leading the buying teams at Co-op. Paul’s career has taken him through key roles within the buying teams at; Tesco, Coles, Pret, Morrisons and Aldi before he became a director at Co-op. His wealth of experience not only means Paul knows the industry inside and out, but also has a true passion for it. Paul and his team at Co-op are leading the way in understanding customers and their needs. Be sure to tune into his update this year, where he and his team will break down the key Category Missions for Fresh and Chilled.

Richard Dennett, Head of Category - Bakery, Local, Regional & World Foods, Co-op

Richard Dennett

Head of Category - Bakery, Local, Regional & World Foods, Co-op

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Richard has been with Co-op for nearly nine years. His current role as Category Buying Manager sees him head up the Bakery, Local and World Food team. Previous roles include Category Trading Manager of Home & Personal Care, and positions within BWS and Impulse. Prior to that he spent just over seven years at Morrisons where he performed a number of roles within the commercial function.

Richard is married with two young children and is a keen Manchester United fan (season ticket holder). Other passions include food, drink and travel, and of course spending time with family. Interesting fact is that Richard used to live and work in Andalucia, Spain where he became fluent in Spanish.

John Dickson

Head of Category - Home and Personal Care & Grocery & Edibles, Co-op

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John is currently the head of Grocery, a role has held since January 2020. The Head of Grocery role looks after 40 categories, 300 suppliers and more than 4000 products across the Co-op, FRTS and Nisa Wholesale. Previously John has held role as CTM for Grocery Edibles, Home & Personal Care as well as Buyer and Senior Buyer roles within Confectionery and Grocery. John and the team are focusing on the great supplier relationships, and the creation of a simplified and responsible proposition that meets the needs of all customers across all channels, missions and formats.

Michael Fletcher

Retail Chief Commercial Officer, Co-op

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Michael Fletcher is Co-op’s Chief Commercial Officer, having joined our Food business in 2013. Michael is responsible for leading its Commercial functions. Michael has led the Commercial Team through an exceptional year of trading so far and is proud to put making a difference in our communities and beyond at the forefront of our commercial success.

Michael daily puts to use his extensive in Food Retail, which spans his entire career. He has extensive operational experience, developing and leading commercial strategy, opening new markets and leading synergy initiatives. As part of his retail experience, Michael managed stores for a year. He is passionate about executing all commercial and supply chain activity through the store lens.

In the past year, Michael has been leading his teams through a change programme which is at the heart of building a Co-op fit for the future. His teams have been responsible for integrating Nisa into our business, revolutionising our systems through the Retail Business Transformation (RBT) programme, developing an own-brand proposition which one over 100 awards (this year alone) and creating a visionary Future of Food ambition which charts a path to a more sustainable, ethical food future. Michael is married and has three children. Whilst he has ambitions to play golf and sail, he tends to be found on school sports fields including helping coach at his local rugby club. Keen to support children’s education Michael is a Trustee Governor of his local Academy Grammar School.

Matt Hood

Commercial Director, Co-op

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Matt is the Co-op Commercial Director, and his team are responsible for developing and leading the plans that underpin the commercial strategy of Co-op and Nisa Food businesses. Other aspects of the overall commercial offer such as technical, agriculture and the joining the dots programme also sit within Matt’s team. He has been with the Co-op for coming up to 8 years and has played a leading role in developing and implementing and executing the strategy which has helped transform the performance of the business. He joined the Co-op in 2013 as part of a new leadership team tasked with rescuing and rebuilding the business. In the past year, Matt has led his team through the unexpected challenges and impacts of Covid and Brexit as well Co Ops ongoing strategic vision to be the UK’s best convenience retailer while also championing a better way of doing business. He and his team continue to adapt to trading in an increasingly multi-channel business, with wholesale and ecommerce becoming a key part of how Coop deal with their suppliers as well as interact with customers. He’s also developed a buying strategy that challenges his teams to work smarter, carefully considering what role each of our category plays to make sure we invest our efforts and capital in line with customer insight. His team have had another exceptional year of trade, outperforming the market like-for-like. Outside of work, Matt enjoys spending time with his young family, playing and following football and keeping fit.

Ali Jones

Customer Director, Co-op

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Ali Jones has been the Customer Director at the Co-op since January 2018. She is a member of both the Food Exec and the Chief Membership Officer Leadership team. This allows her to develop customer and member plans that support the Food strategy and potentiate the One Co-op Customer and member propositions.

Her role encompasses Customer Propositions, Customer Communications, Events and Partnerships, Live and Local, Retail Insight, Store Innovation and Format, Trade Planning and Food Digital.

Prior to joining the Co-op, Ali has wide-ranging experience in Customer roles from retailers such as Next, Debenhams, Arcadia, Marks and Spencer and Woolworths (Australia).

Ben Kisby

Head of Commercial Strategy & Planning, Co-op

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Ben joined Co-op in 2016, following 9 years working for suppliers, at Dairy Crest, Mondelez, and Kellogg. Ben leads the Commercial Strategy & Planning team, which works across Promotional Planning, Commercial Ranging, and Category & Mission Development, ensuring business strategy is translated to what customers and members see in store. Ben’s experience working for suppliers, and Co-op has been focussed on understanding customers, and bringing this to the heart of decision making.

Mark Matthews, Director of Store Innovation, Co-op

Mark Matthews

Director of Store Innovation

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Mark joined the Co-op in 2019 as the Director of Format & Innovation. The team is responsible for how we bring to life our customer proposition in store. This includes our format development & design, how we use our space including range & visual merchandising and our in-store partnership growth. Prior to joining the Co-op, Mark has 25 years of retail experience with retailers such as Asda, Best Buy Europe, Selfridges and BHS. Outside of work, Mark has two children, Neve & Zach and enjoys live music, travelling to new places and talking about his two favourite teams, Aston Villa and Las Vegas Raiders.

Rebecca Oliver-Mooney

Head of Category - Dairy & Frozen, Co-op

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ROM has over 20 years’ experience in a variety of commercial, category, innovation and strategy roles across manufacturing and retail including Mars, Nestle, Kellogg’s, Muller and Biotiful Dairy before joining Co-op in 2020 as Head of Category for Dairy and Frozen.

ROM is extremely passionate about putting the customer at the heart of what we do, focusing on using data and insight to create visionary strategies that centre around customers’ wants and needs. Empowering creativity, change and doing things differently ROM prides herself on driving accessible, mindful inspiration for our customer base.

Within Frozen and Dairy ROM wants everyone to positively and passionately disrupt and inspire to drive authentic differentiation for Co-op, doing the right things in the right way. Putting collaboration at the forefront of ways of working ROM would welcome anyone in the supply base reaching out to her and the team to think outside of the box, fridge or freezer!

ROM is an extremely proud mum of 2 daughters (10 & 12), and nothing delights her more than seeing their passion for retail being developed at a young age. She promises that she doesn’t ‘borrow’ all of their good ideas….

Oliver Pinder, Head of Category - Meals & Events, Co-op

Oliver Pinder

Head of Category - Meals & Events, Co-op

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Oli has over 15 years’ experience and retail and more than seven years’ in senior trade leadership roles, which has included international accolade during his tenure at Qatar Airways for ‘Best New Shop’ at the DFNI Awards 2015. Oli assumes his role as Head of Category for Meals and Events at Co-op following highly successful tenures in emerging e-commerce businesses, including Musclefood and Gousto.

Michelle Rowley

Head of Product Development, Co-op

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Michelle has over 15 years of experience working in the food industry. After starting in consumer data and research she got the itch to get closer to the action, to turning the insight into something tangible. Michelle then moved up to be the own brand manager for the UK’s largest own label range and followed this with her favourite move - into product development. This brought together her passion for customers, proposition development and food!

Over the years she has worked across brands, own label both supply side and for different retailers including Kantar, Tesco, Greencore and Iceland. This has given her a great rounded insight into the food, retail industry.

Michelle says…
“I believe that if you understand your customers, provide relevant solutions, collaborate effectively and bring passion, care and fun to your NPD and Innovation projects you really can’t go wrong!”

Guy Stuart

Head of Value Chain, Co-op

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Guy joined the Co-op three years ago to head up the newly formed Value Chain team – removing complexity to generate value alongside our supply partners. Guy’s remit now covers multiple end to end initiatives, both external and internal, to create the value to support investment in our Co-op strategy. Prior to the Co-op, Guy spent 20 years in the supply base in senior leadership positions across commercial, purchasing and operations. Guy lives in Sheffield and is generally to be found cycling in the Peak District or watching his two boys running around a football pitch.

Dahlia Stroud

Head of Category - Non Food, Fuel and Kiosk (Cigarettes, Tobacco, News and Magazines), Co-op

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The Newsagent mission is of key strategic importance to Co-op with many customers visiting stores as part of their daily routine to pick up items from Newsagent categories. In an area where customer needs are evolving, there is an opportunity to create new ways to service newsagent customers across Co-op’s communities and across all channels.

Prior to joining Co-op, Dahlia worked in an extensive range of roles at ASDA working in trading, commercial strategy and was fundamental in driving the growth of general merchandising online through George.com. Dahlia also has experience in the supply base having held both sales and category roles across supermarket, wholesale and online channels at Nestle.

Nicole Tallant

Head of Category - Food to Go, Co-op

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Nicole has recently been appointed to Head of Category for Food to Go at the Co-op, following her successful leadership of Food to Go and Bakery. Nicole has a proven track record in FMCG trade, with a career spanning nearly ten years in the industry. She has previously led categories across Confectionery, Chilled and Seasonal and worked on project management roles implementing value strategy across ASDA.

James Walton

Chief Economist, IGD

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James’ role at IGD is to help businesses anticipate and cope with strategic events, including: economic pressures, geo-political change, social developments and environmental stress.

James is well known for speaking at both UK and international events and provides interviews for TV, radio and the press. He also creates original reports and articles for IGD. James has worked with clients across the entire grocery industry as well as with non-industry groups such as government departments, financial businesses and NGOs. James joined IGD in April 1999 and has served in several roles, becoming Chief Economist in 2004. Prior to joining IGD, he worked for Hillsdown Holdings, Northern Foods and Rank-Xerox.

Jo Whitfield

Chief Executive, Food, Co-op

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Jo Whitfield is the CEO of Co-op’s Food business. She joined the Co-op in 2016 initially as Food Finance Director.

Prior to this Jo held a number of senior operational, finance, trading, strategy and international leadership positions with Asda and throughout her career has held leadership roles with businesses such as Northern Foods, GE Capital and Matalan.

Jo is married with two children and is an Ambassador for Girls Out Loud, a member of Women in Retail group and an ambassador for the Women of the Future programme. She’s currently runs a not-for-profit network called Grocery Girls, that supports women in retail. This year she won the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman of the Year Award and led Co-op Food through more than 100 industry award wins, including Grocer of the Year at the Golden Grocer Awards.

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