The Heart of England Co-op Store in Old Bilton, Harrogate, has has been given an exterior and interior facelift at a cost of £375,000.


The 3,000 sq ft sales floor boasts a new food-to-go area including hot food, Costa Coffee and Tango Ice Blast. Other improvements include new flooring, shelving and interior and exterior signage. The self-service check-out area has been extended and the store now stocks a wider range of products.


Steve Browne, general manager of Heart of England Co-op’s 38-store food division, said customers will not only benefit from having more choice, but will be able to shop in a modern and vibrant environment.

“We’re also extremely proud of just how green the store is, not just in terms of the building and technology, but also the products and packaging too.


“The new refrigeration system is equipped with energy saving doors and there is LED lighting throughout the building. We’ve removed the natural gas boiler to save on carbon emissions and green alternatives are now being used for hot water and heating in the area reserved for our colleagues at the store.”


Mr Browne also confirmed that plans are in place to install solar panels on the building. “The environment constantly tops our list when it comes to new developments,” he said. “We also try to employ local contractors where possible. The solar panels, for example, will be fitted by a Coventry firm.”

He added: “We are investing millions of pounds into sustainability across our network of stores which shows the emphasis we place on continually improving our carbon footprint.”


The Old Bilton store will also continue to play its part in fighting food poverty in partnership with the Midlands FareShare charity. Last year it was revealed that surplus food from the Society’s convenience stores provided over 140,000 meals for people struggling to make ends meet.

Sending the food to local people instead of refuse tips also benefited the environment by preventing 92.8 tonnes of CO2 emissions.


Chief executive Ali Kurji said the Heart of England is one of the last remaining fully independent co-operative societies in the country:

“Our administrative headquarters in Coventry are just a stroll away from where we were founded in 1832. As a co-operative we are unlike many businesses who are preoccupied solely with boosting shareholders’ wallets. Our shareholders are effectively our 170,000 members who are also our customers.

“What also sets us apart is the level of support we give to local communities. Our Helping Hearts Scheme alone has handed out £1.2m since it was launched in 2000 and we pledge to give away at least £50,000 a year.”


Shoppers have also been taking advantage of a host of special offers to celebrate the refurbishment. The day was well attended with Santa Claus even putting in an appearance at the ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the relaunch.

Old Bilton £375,000 refit

Santa produces a giant pair of scissors to help pupils from Bilton Infant School cut the ribbon at the unveiling of the refitted store. Looking on (left to right) are: Clive Miles, joint president of the Heart of England Co-operative Society), directors, Colin Brown, Scott Montgomery and Ann Brown, chief executive Ali Kurji, joint president Nick Matthews, Steve Browne, general manager of the food division, vice president Paul Elverson and director Hanne Hoeck.

Pupils from Old Bilton Infant School took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the completion of the work last Saturday. The school was also handed a £500 donation to fund new library books.