Community champion Jenny excited after being handed challenge of leading her first food store

Posted by james brindle | Published: 27/08/2020

A retail hero from Leicestershire who helped ensure people have access to vital food and essentials throughout the Coronavirus pandemic has been rewarded with her first role leading a store in Market Harborough.

Jenny Hurst has spent over 30 years with Central England Co-op and is a passionate champion for the community as a member of the Society’s Southern Member and Community Council (MCC).

After returning to the retail frontline earlier this year after spending 12 months on secondment in the community as one of the retailer’s Member and Community Relations Officers, she has thrown herself back into the challenge on the shopfloor.

She has now been handed the reins of the Coventry Road Food Store and Petrol Filling Station in Market Harborough, reward for her years of hard work and for rising to the challenge during these uncertain times.

The mother-of-two from Melton Mowbray, who began her co-op journey as a general weekend assistant at her local store when she was 16, said she was delighted to finally be leading her own store and was looking forward to the challenges ahead.

She said: “There’s plenty for me to get stuck into to make it my own and I like a challenge. I am very excited to be empowered to own the site and the team have been really welcoming, with even a box of chocolates and welcome messages upon my arrival.

“Taking on a store in a new role can be challenging, however given the situation at the moment there are measures in place to keep us safe and that can be a challenge in itself.

“On the whole the customers are making a fantastic effort to follow the measures and the team are leading by example, wearing masks, completing cleaning tasks more regularly and ensuring that items such as hand sanitiser and cleaning equipment are available for our customers at all times.”

Jenny returned to the shopfloor from her community role at the beginning of March so had to quickly get back up to speed as food stores faced unprecedented demand.

She said: “I went into support our Thurncourt Road Food Store on the outskirts of Leicester. From the moment I walked through the door I loved it and hadn’t realised how much I’d missed being in the buzz of a store environment. 

“The team were great and welcomed me with open arms. By my first week COVID had really hit and the store environment was hard work, so it really was sink or swim!

“I was sad to leave Thurncourt Road, however I’ve made some lifelong friends along the way. I helped support a few other stores before going to the Oakham Petrol Filling Station after finding out the great news that I had been successful for the store manager role. This gave me an opportunity to refresh my knowledge in fuel as it is a completely different entity to a food store.”

Jenny said she was particularly excited about throwing herself into the local community both in her store manager role and with her MCC hat on as well.

She said: “Market Harborough is a beautiful town and I’m looking forward to welcoming and serving the local community. The southern MCC already has some great links in Market Harborough and I have helped with the Christmas event two years ago working alongside the team at the main food store.

“I am looking forward to replicating that event and continuing to help grow our membership and presence in the community once restrictions allow. The southern MCC has just given funds to the local hygiene bank so we are still out there helping projects where we can.”

People can keep up to date with what is happening in their local community in response to Coronavirus by visiting a dedicated online hub at


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 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 who serve 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 for more information or follow us on Facebook or Twitter using @mycoopfood

Press office contacts: Rob Smyth and James Brindle

Phone - 01543 421390

Email -