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40 years and counting for Leicestershire store manager

A Leicestershire retail hero who achieved his dream of running his own store at the age of 23 says he has no intention of leaving the frontline just yet as he marks 40 years with Central England Co-op.

David Hextall started with us in 1980 with the aim of becoming a store manager as soon as he could, and he now proudly serves the community in Coalville with vital food and essentials during these uncertain times as leader of the Meadow Lane Food Store.

The 56-year-old began at Central England Co-op as a ‘Saturday lad’ in his then home village of Burbage and after just a couple of months his passion for retail was such that he knew he wanted to do it for a career.

After taking on his first store manager role at Barlestone he led a number of stores across Leicestershire before settling at our then new store in Markfield for 20 years, which was where he set up home and met his fiancée Christine.

David said he had achieved his dream by becoming a store manager and despite the many changes and challenges that he has faced in his 40 years he has enjoyed every moment.

He said: “Being a store manager was something that I set my stall out to do not long after I started as a Saturday lad. I said to myself I wanted to stay here and get as far as I can go and wanted to train up as soon as possible.

“So, I went to college and got the qualifications to become a deputy manager when I was only 17 and got my first store manager role at 23. I was really proud when I got my first store as that was my dream from the moment I started.

“There have been many changes from when I started, with new systems and new ways of working but I love what I do and I’m proud of reaching my 40 years of service – it’s not something many people do.

“I still want to keep going for as long as I can as I love retail. I’ve always enjoyed working in the business and get great job satisfaction.”

While David’s passion for his job remains, he admitted that this year has undoubtedly been the most challenging of his long career.

He said: “This year has definitely been something that none of us have seen before and just can’t believe what has happened really, with the incredible demand we saw to having to introduce social distancing measures and wearing face masks and visors as we serve the community. It has been a real eye opener.

“However, it has been a big team effort to overcome the challenges and make real positives by attracting new customers who are sticking with us. Everyone is in the same boat and all my colleagues and the community are facing the challenge together.”

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