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Training and development

The Co-operative Way is a self-driven 26-week programme, but there will be a number of key individuals who are there to help and support you along the way. These include: 

Your Academy Store Manager

The Academy Store Manager (ASM) is there to provide you with a great learning experience, and to uphold the integrity of the programme. The ASM will ensure standards are upheld, and provide guidance and support to facilitate your self-development. This will be in the form of weekly reviews, providing developmental feedback and coaching you for success. 

Your Area Manager

The Area Manager will support and guide the Academy Store Manager and you, providing learning opportunities outside the Academy Store. In partnership with Human Resources, the Area Manager  will also review progress more formally on a periodic basis.

Area / Field support

Additional support is available through various field-based business specialists in:

  • Finance
  • Human Resources
  • Loss Prevention
  • Operational Training
  • Health & Safety

Case Study - Becoming a Store Manager through The Co-operative Way

Our internal colleague magazine, US Magazine, recently ran the following article on Gary Chadwick, a graduate of The Co-operative Programme who grasped an opportunity with both hands, climbing through the ranks to his first Store Manager position.

“I really feel I’m part of something!”

Gary Chadwick is a man on a mission. When Us magazine meets him, he’s cutting his teeth as a Store Manager at The Co-operative Food in Sherdley, St Helens. Just four weeks in and already he’s got his sights set high: buzzing with excitement about his new store, new team and new challenge.

But a few years ago things were quite different for Gary. Starting his career as a Customer Service Assistant at Somerfield’s Waterloo branch in Liverpool, Gary progressed over the next ten years to Supervisor and Trading Manager, until The Co-operative’s acquisition of Somerfield presented him with a brand new opportunity.

Last year I was asked if I’d be interested in The Co-operative’s Store Manager development programme, The Co-operative Way,” Gary explains. “I was asked to go to a Selection Event, and I jumped at the chance. I thought to myself, ‘you’ve got a fantastic opportunity here: make the most of it!’ I wanted to show them I had what it took.”

And show them he did, making it through the assessment to join several other Store Manager hopefuls on the intensive 26-week training programme.

“It’s certainly no easy ride,” admits Gary, as he describes the gruelling schedule of field work, HR, diligence, health and safety, systems and a series of management challenges.
“There was a lot of work to do beforehand, and it was pretty daunting to be honest. But I had lots of support and everyone was so warm and inviting. And it was exciting; I really felt I was part of something, you know?”

 “The biggest challenge for me was all the new systems I had to learn going into The Co-operative stores. It was hard at first – a lot to take in. But there was also the whole Co-operative business to understand: the co-operative model, ethical campaigns, membership, the other businesses we’re part of… but the team here at my store are great; like a real family, and they’ve been great at helping me to settle in.”

“I’m really proud of Gary,” adds Dave Brighouse, the Operations Manager who supported Gary through the process. “He’s come through the ranks and is now running a store - this is what success looks like! It just shows that with the right attitude and work ethic, you can do it and he’s a true example of the talent we have in our business!”

So what’s next for Gary? “It’s early days for me here; there’s lots of work to do. But the best thing about being a store manager is having my own team and I’m really excited about building that and creating our own success. All in all it's been great, and I feel really proud to be part of it all.”

Gary made the most of the opportunity by showing the assessors just how good he was. At the academy store, where the trainees are asked to do a floor walk and write a report, Gary took the initiative and wrote a 100-day business plan for the store: his vision for how he could turn it around.

“My plan was really well received because it was entirely my idea,” smiles Gary. “It earned me a few brownie points I think!”

“The fact I was able to do that is great; nothing is set with the training. Yes, you have to complete the modules, but it’s your training; how you do it is up to you.”