Leicester retail hero talks lockdown learning and promotion as he marks 25 years with Co-op

Posted by james brindle | Published: 06/08/2020

A Leicester retail hero who became a food store manager at 21 and has spent his whole career with Central England Co-op has spoken about reaching his next career goal while facing the challenges of studying during lockdown.

Scott Ward began his retail career in 1995 as a part-time Customer Service Assistant at the Society’s Oadby Food Store before quickly working his way up to become a store manager.

A quarter of a century later he has just been promoted permanently to the role of Retail Operations Manager having been seconded to the role in December last year from his store manager role in Markfield.

The 41-year-old is currently studying for his Level 5 Operational/Departmental Manager Apprenticeship – the equivalent of a degree – as he continues his journey developing his career with the retailer, which has meant both balancing his busy role during unprecedented times with studying at home.

Scott explained why he decided to study for the apprenticeship and how challenging it has been working around the clock supporting food stores as well as studying during these uncertain times.

He said: “I have a belief to constantly better myself. I was aware of the scheme previously and wanted to participate to increase my knowledge and learnings.

“I started my apprenticeship last July, so have been on the scheme for just over a year and should be completed by November next year.

“At the height of the pandemic it was really challenging to sit down and complete written assignments, but through the support of the provider as well as internal support, they had recognised this early on with all candidates being time pressured.

“They provided ways of working in breaking assignments down to make it easier to manage, the assignments that were set captured what was currently happening, which was really helpful.

“My main challenge since being on the scheme is going back to those school years as an adult. It was very challenging at first, particularly having to write assignments that were more than I have ever written previously.”

Scott said the support he has received has been invaluable to helping him on his apprenticeship journey and to balancing work with his studies.

He said: “I was never the best academic writer at school but through the support of the college (Chesterfield College), my tutor Helen and Andrea from our apprenticeship team at Central England Co-op, as well as my wife who has an English degree, who really helped with support in this first couple of assignments giving much needed feedback, I feel that I am continuously improving.

“It has made me realise where I needed to improve as well as what I should be doing to proof read my work as well as communications that I send out and also pushing my oral skills to be better.

“I also get continued support from my line manager Dan Gee to take what time I need to be at my best for classroom days as well as the time spent doing research, assignments and other work that I need to complete. I also get great support from my peers; some have completed the scheme before and are useful to listen and mentor.”

People can find out more about apprenticeships at Central England Co-op at https://www.cecjobs.coop/Apprenticeships


Notes to editors

About Central England Co-operative

Central England Co-operative is one of the largest independent retail co-operative societies in the UK with interests in food, funeral, floral, travel and property investment.

Co-operatives have always been there for their communities; they were formed to protect them and help them flourish. 

Our 7,900 colleagues serving our Members and customers work hard to ensure that co-operative values, principles and spirit flow through everything we do to help support and improve our local communities.

Owned by hundreds of thousands of Members, we have over 430 trading outlets across 16 counties including West Midlands, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire. 

We are proud of our reputation for ethical business practices and corporate responsibility.

We invest a percentage of our trading profit into local communities through our Community Dividend Fund scheme, have donated over £1.3 million to our corporate charity partner Dementia UK and also operate a pioneering food redistribution partnership with FareShare Midlands so unsold food goes to those in need.

Visit www.centralengland.coop for more information or follow us on Facebook or Twitter using @mycoopfood

Press office contacts: Rob Smyth and James Brindle

Phone - 01543 421390

Email - publicrelations@centralengland.coop