Co-op centre delivers the goods

THE East of England Co-op's distribution centre in Ipswich has celebrated 25 years of “delivering the goods” to co-operative supermarkets and food stores across East Anglia.

THE East of England Co-op's distribution centre in Ipswich has celebrated 25 years of “delivering the goods” to co-operative supermarkets and food stores across East Anglia.

Staff at the centre in Boss Hall Road, including a number who have worked there since the facility first opened, marked the occasion with an anniversary cake.

The warehouse began as a joint venture between three co-operative societies, the Ipswich, the Colchester & East Essex and the Chelmsford Star, serving 102 food stores in Suffolk and Essex.

Extensions in 1986 and 1990 more than doubled its original size and in 2008 the East of England Co-op, created through the merger of the Ipswich & Norwich and Colchester & East Essex societies in 2005, took sole ownership of the facility.


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Today, the centre supplies more 200 stores, including the East of England society's own network of 135 food stores across Suffolk, Essex and Norfolk and others operated within the region by the Anglia and Chelmsford Star co-operative societies and the national Co-operative Group.

The distribution operation employs more than 200 people in all. The distribution centre covers 140,000 sq ft and stocks around 3,750 different product lines.

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Its fleet of 28 lorries and 38 trailers covers around 900,000 miles a year, making more than 29,000 deliveries a year.

Richard Samson, the society's chief executive, said: “Our distribution centre is a key part of our supply chain making sure that goods are on the shelves for our customers.

“It played a crucial part in keeping our stores stocked during the recent bad weather and I'm delighted that we are able to celebrate the success it has achieved over the past 25 years.”

The centre forms part of the Boss Hall Business Park, a 39-acre industrial estate wholly-owned by the East of England Co-operative Society and providing a total of around 40 industrial units.

Other departments of the society based on the estate include the building services division, which recently relocated there.

Although its development as an industrial estate dates only from 1979, the site had been in the ownership of the Co-op and its predecessor societies for more than a century.

It was originally a farm, with operations including cows, pigs and marketing gardening. A slaughterhouse and a dairy were later also added to the business.

When the foundations for the last warehouse extension were being dug in 1990, an Anglo-Saxon burial ground was discovered. Jewellery found during the subsequent excavation is now on display at Ipswich Museum.

The distribution centre also houses the society's plastic and cardboard recycling facility, whichhandles around 237 tonnes of cardboard and 11.5 tonnes of plastic each month

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