Retail hero achieves new role

A marketing expert has landed a dream role with Central England Co-op after completing a three-month spell helping her local store to provide food and essentials during the Coronavirus outbreak.

Hannah Frost was left out of work at the onset of the pandemic through no fault of her own, but rather than let the disappointment get her down, she offered her services to her local store in Court Oak Road, Harborne, as it faced unprecedented demand.

The 27-year-old has now landed a head office role becoming Retail Marketing Lead and signed off from the store by being recognised as its Colleague of the Month.

Hannah began her career with marketing roles in London with Debenhams and ASK Italian but after living in the capital for four years decided to move back to Birmingham in September last year to settle down with her partner.

After months of job hunting she thought she had finally landed on her feet with a role with a Staffordshire entertainment venue in March but after just a week in the role she had to self-isolate after showing Coronavirus symptoms and as lockdown hit, she didn’t qualify for the furlough scheme and was back on the job market.

Sitting at home bored she was desperate to do her bit and her boyfriend urged her to try their local Central England Co-op store as we launched a recruitment drive for temporary colleagues.

Hannah said: “The store is literally five minutes away from where I live so I popped in and spoke with the store manager Louise and asked if she had any jobs. She said yes can you start tomorrow!

“I started on April 3 so it was right in the heat of it. What really struck me was the compassion of my colleagues. There is a retirement home across the road and they would call the store and Louise, or the team leaders would always take time no matter how busy we were to take orders and drop the shopping over the road safely to them for those who couldn’t get out.

“When we were in heavy lockdown, we were really the only people those customers would see for weeks so taking that time and showing that compassion was really important to them and something the team did really well.

“But also caring for each other - having a laugh and joke and not letting the situation get to them was so impressive. It was definitely an experience I won’t forget. You don’t realise until you work there just how hard people work in supermarkets and convenience stores. I found it so tiring!

“My role was a bit of everything really. I loved being on the till as you get to speak to people and have a chat to them. For some elderly and vulnerable customers, you were the only person they saw and it was a stressful time so I saw it as important to make them feel comfortable and take the time to get to know them. I’m a people person so enjoy that side of it and it was really rewarding.

“I had only moved to Harbourne last September, I’m from Solihull originally, so don’t have many friends here or know the community that well, so working there has really helped me personally as well as I’ve made new friends and see some of the customers out and about and they will say hello so that’s lovely.”

When Hannah started at the Court Oak Road store she had no idea about any vacancies in our marketing team but after developing a passion for our ethos and values when she heard of an opening in the team she knew she had to go for it.

She said: “A recruiter had mentioned in January that Central England Co-op would be a good fit but at that time there were no roles, so the Society was in my mind and after working at the store for a couple of weeks I thought, I really love the brand and the values, and the people I worked with were all really passionate and care about what they do.

“From that I thought I wanted to see if there was any development potential here for me and I saw there was a marketing job being advertised so I spoke to Louise and she said you need to go for it.

“Being in store for those three months has really helped me in understanding the business as coming from hospitality, food retail is very different, so that has helped me hit the ground running.

“I’m really excited as I’m passionate about the ethical side of the business and the community aspect of what we do and it’s great to be working somewhere where I can really develop, and I hope there will be good years ahead.”

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