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
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.’