Spar UK boss Debbie Robinson is quitting the symbol group to take the reins as boss of Central England Co-operative.

Robinson, who will be the first female chief executive of the society, will take up the role next spring, succeeding Martyn Cheatle.

Debbie Robinson

Debbie Robinson has been Spar UK managing director since 2011

Central England Co-operative operates more than 400 stores across 16 UK counties, employing more than 8,000 people.

Robinson will be responsible for “developing the strategic and commercial direction of the society”.

She has been Spar UK managing director since 2011 and has previously held a number of senior roles at Marks & Spencer, WHSmith and the Co-op during a 30-year career.

Central England Co-operative president Elaine Dean said: ““Debbie is no stranger to cooperative ethics and values, having previous experience at a senior level within the co-operative movement.

“She has a sound track record of success and is highly respected in the retail sector.”

Robinson, who also sits on the boards of the Association of Convenience Stores and the British Retail Consortium, said: “I am delighted to be joining a progressive and truly cooperative society. I look forward to building on the fantastic work Martyn has done and working with the team to ensure Central England Co-operative fulfils its ambitions and potential, making a real difference for our members and the communities we serve.

“My vision for the future of Central England Co-operative is to grow sustainably and make the most of the society’s key USP: our cooperative principles.”