Co-op creates specialist retail brands role

Co-operative Group has promoted Travelcare general manager Yvonne Rankin to the new role of chief general manager for specialist retail brands.

Rankin will be responsible for marketing the Co-op’s three specialist retail businesses, Travelcare, funeral operations and the Eyecare optical chain.

She joined the company in 1996 as national sales and marketing manager of the travel operation, and took over as general manager two years later. She oversaw the relaunch of the Co-op’s travel operation as Travelcare last August. The Co-op claims sales have grown 30 per cent year-on-year since then.

The Co-op launched its new brand positioning as part of a £20m, three-year investment programme in the specialist retail businesses, focusing on its stance of fair-trading.

In 1998 the travel arm launched the Traveller’s Right to Know service, a charter to ensure customers get a fair deal on travel.

Rankin retains responsibility for the newly-established commercial division’s marketing team. She aims to develop branding common to each specialist retail arm.

She will report to Joe Beardwood, controller of the Co-operative Group’s commercial division.

Beardwood says: “Rankin will bring her considerable experience in building a strong retail brand, based on Co-operative values, to these other important areas of our business.”

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