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Thomas's Story

Seasonal stores are an exciting place to build a career

583 words approx. 3 minutes to read

I first joined the Co-op as a customer team member while at university. After completing my degree, I started a new role in the hospitality industry. I remember feeling much more valued when working for the Co-op so I made the decision to rejoin the business as a team leader. At this point, I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go with my career, but I knew the Co-op had been a rewarding, fun and ethical place to work. It was with the support of some brilliant managers that I realised Co-op was a place where I could build my career.

Co-op’s ethical and moral code really sets them apart from other retailers. Their commitment to Fairtrade, animal rights and the environment is next level. Co-op always put the needs of its people, and the community, before profits. Working for a company like this makes you feel proud.

Life in a seasonal store

Priorities are always changing in a seasonal store so it’s an exciting place to be. In summer we can push 600% more bottled water than in winter so keeping impulse purchases stocked up takes priority. In the seasonal parts of the year, we have some strong competition from larger competitors, so making the store appear more attractive and better to buy from becomes priority. Every day is different and that’s what makes it enjoyable.

A community focused career

I love the community element. As a store manager, I have an influence on how our store is perceived by our local community. I get to interact with local groups and help them fundraise through our Community Fund.  I don’t believe that many other companies would allow as much time for their employees to be actively involved in the community as part of their day to day role.

One of my favourite activities has been  supporting my old primary school through the Local Community Fund with a donation of £250 for specialist equipment to help children with learning disabilities. This year we’ve also helped the community fundraise for a park. It was a brilliant group effort and we ended up raising £99,000. 

Culture and colleagues are key

The majority of our team are local, so they understand our seasonal needs and how we can support the community. We all band together to get through busy periods, it’s like we’re working with family, not co-workers.  Humour makes a real difference in store. We’ve built our friendships on supporting each other and making each other laugh. We have a weekly joke on our community noticeboard which receives daily comments from our locals. Laughter, I believe, brings people together. 

A place to build a career

I’ve been working here for 5 years now and the amount of time Co-op invests in its people is brilliant. I’ve had the opportunity to go to the Support Centre in Manchester, to different stores, and attend training courses to get different qualifications. The Co-op has really helped develop me into a store manager, through support from my managers and a great internal development programme.

Be ready for a different type of retail career. I would never have known the amount of community involvement Co-op has, they do so much for the good of the community and planet. I couldn’t recommend a career with the Co-op more.

Thomas Barnes,

Store Manager