CRS enlists Blake to food chain PR

The CRS (Co-operative Retail Services) food division has taken on its first PR manager in a bid to woo back shoppers.

The CRS (Co-operative Retail Services) food division has taken on

its first PR manager in a bid to woo back shoppers.

Dawn Blake joined the Rochdale-based CRS from Powell Communications in

Manchester, where she was an account director. Public relations work was

previously handled externally through Communique PR, which remains the

retained agency.

CRS’s 500 stores are due to undergo a pounds 200 million refurbishment

over the next 18 months, which will bring all of its shop fronts under

one brand. The organisation has adopted a new logo and invested pounds 7

million in advertising following a drop in its market share from nine

per cent to under six per cent in the last decade.

’We are upgrading the entire proposition,’ said Blake. She added that

the main difference between CRS and other food retailers is that the

majority of CRS stores are smaller food convenience stores rather than


This will be highlighted in the campaign.

CRS’s push to modernise comes in the face of stiff competition from

supermarket giants such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

As part of its marketing drive CRS also announced the appointment of

Karen Carlyle as marketing and trade director this week. She was poached

from her role as head of marketing for Asda’s provisions business.

The arrival in January of chief executive David Robey from Safeway,

where he was business unit director, came as a result of CRS’s decision

to upgrade its entire service offering.

’It was recognised at corporate level that the food business required

investment and updating,’ said Blake.

CRS’s parent group, the Co-operative, is the second-largest co-operative

society in the UK, and also offers services including funerals and car


Blake admitted that many people are confused about the co-operative

movement as a whole. ’People are aware of its historical background, but

the concept of co-operatives is quite complex.’

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