I’ve worked for Co-op for over five years now. Since becoming a store manager at a new store in Ancoats, a community in central Manchester, I’ve been through some really challenging and rewarding times.
As a store manager, it’s more than just a store opening, we aim to be a positive force in the community. When Co-op first announced that we were opening in Ancoats, we faced some opposition from the local community as a big retailer coming into the area. I saw this as a great opportunity to show the Co-op difference. Before the store opened, we organised several events in the community with the support of our marketing teams.
Becoming part of the Ancoats’ story once again
This opening was particularly special, as we’ve been part of the Ancoats’ story for over 100 years, as we opened our first store here in 1890! I attended monthly meetings with other business owners and built relationships that really helped our standing in the community. I’ve been able to talk to local people about my aspirations for our store and how much we can contribute to local causes in the area. We’ve also recruited a great team full of local residents who can proudly represent their community.
Adapting quickly to the pandemic
Our store opened on 13 March, and we’d barely been open a week before the whole country was locked down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We had to quickly adapt to changes with social distancing and working during the pandemic has been difficult for us all. But it’s been amazing to see how flexible and adaptable the team have been in learning new ways of working, and the way they’ve supported each other throughout the crisis.
We’ve had lots of support from Co-op to help us through this difficult time. Some colleagues have worked flexibly to support other stores in the area, and regular communications and supplies of protective equipment have helped everyone feel as safe as possible. My Team Leader, Ali, who is also a student, was keen to establish a routine with work, since the university was closed, and was so happy to be helping the locals in store. We even had Kate, one of our customer team members, come to help us from our support centre. All these things have made the team feel valued and secure in their jobs.
I know that we’re now a valued part of our community, being referred to by some locals as the ''lockdown shop''. I’m proud of how we’ve come together as a team to support the local community during this difficult time.