The board of Tamworth Co-operative Society has announced that its chief executive Julian Coles is to retire at the end of June this year.
His successor will be Dan Welsh, the Society’s senior general manager who currently heads up the food division.
Mr Coles first took over the helm in February 2009 and will have served for exactly 27 years when he leaves. He joined the Society in July 1997 as accountant and deputy CEO.
Before moving to the Tamworth Co-op, he was a finance director in several private sector companies mainly in the distribution sector.
Mr Coles said: “I have enjoyed my time with the Society immensely and will have so many memories to treasure. The board has been nothing but supportive during my time here and I am also very grateful to so many colleagues for their hard work and dedication.
“It’s been a huge privilege to serve as chief executive of such an historic and iconic Tamworth organisation. Until the end of June, however, it will be business as normal as there is still plenty of work for me to do.”
Sheree Peaple, chairwoman of Tamworth Co-op’s board of directors, described Mr Coles’ period in charge as ‘15 years of exemplary service.’
She said he had led the Society through some of the biggest economic challenges it has ever faced, including the Covid pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis, adding:
“Julian has also overseen the development of new purpose-built food stores which have enhanced communities such as Dordon, Dosthill and Glascote. On top of this, his tenure has seen significant improvements to many of the Society’s food and funeral branches.
“He has also truly embraced the ethical co-operative principles on which the Society was founded in 1886 with record amounts of money being handed to worthwhile local causes.
“The Community Dividend scheme has gifted more than £100,000 over the past decade and last year a total of 70 community organisations shared £35,000 to mark the late Queen’s 70-year reign. Also in 2023, hundreds of families struggling to makes ends meet received emergency food supplies from the Tamworth Co-op.”
Mr Welsh, who has been with the Society for more than 30 years, will serve as chief executive officer designate until he takes over his new role on July 1.
He joined the independent co-operative in 1993, working part-time at the branch in Whittington where he grew up. After managing several food stores, he went on to hold various positions, including fresh food manager and operations manager. He was made general manager of the food division in 2015.
“I’m delighted to have been given this incredible opportunity and it will be a great honour to serve as chief executive,” he said.
Mr Welsh’s appointment followed an extensive recruitment exercise involving both external and internal candidates.
Ms Peaple said it was a significant appointment for the Society and for Tamworth too.
“We wish Dan every success in his new role. We believe he has all the attributes to be a very worthy successor.”