Co-op boss opens up to Humber Business Week audience on pricing, pay and how to inspire a workforce

Business leaders will get the chance to hear from one of Europe’s top retailers about her ideas on pricing, pay and how to inspire a workforce when an exclusive interview is aired as part of Humber Business Week.

Pictured after the Elevenses interview are Debbie Robinson (centre) with Paul Sewell and Pat Coyle.

Debbie Robinson, the Central England CEO and European Vice President of the Co-op, is recognised in her sector as an all-round high achiever yet has opted for an almost zero media profile.

But she opened up for the Elevenses interview which had to be pre-recorded because she will be away during Biz Week looking after the Co-op’s interests across Europe.

The stream will be available from 11am on Tuesday 6 June at the Humber Business Week website, and members of the live audience are looking forward to sharing it among their own teams.

Elevenses was launched at the 2021 edition of Humber Business Week by Paul Sewell, who founded the event in 2005 and also brought the Yorkshire International Business Convention (YIBC) to Hull.

As chair of Sewell Group he works across sectors including construction, property, investments, filling stations and convenience stores. He met Debbie earlier this year during a retail industry visit to Japan and South Korea, and she accepted his invitation to join him for the interview at the Sewell Studio.

Debbie explained before the interview that she has never participated in social media because of her family-first approach. Any mainstream media coverage has been limited and always purely about business – she worked at the Co-op, Marks and Spencer and W H Smith before becoming UK Managing Director at SPAR and then being headhunted to return to the Co-op.

Paul said: “I invited her because I found her to be a fabulous role model with a wonderful story to tell, and all of that came through in our interview. It was as wide-ranging as it could be, from Debbie’s childhood in Burnley to bringing up her own children while also pursuing such a high-level career.

“It’s about aspiration and achievement and it has something for everybody involved in business – certainly for women and also for the men who work with them.”

Business leaders in the audience were enthralled by the conversation and confirmed they will be sharing it with colleagues and contacts.

Martin Lauer, Founder and CEO of The One Point, said: “It was an authentic and inspiring personal story of success and the core ingredients of how to get there. She’s definitely a modern leader and you want your people to hear her so we’ll be sharing the stream.”

Pat Coyle, Director of Marketing and Client Relations, Rollits LLP and incoming chair of Humber Business Week, added: “It was a privilege to be in the live audience. Debbie’s story was both inspirational and relatable, showcasing her passion for people and commitment to doing what’s right. She is an extraordinary individual, and I highly encourage everyone to spare an hour to hear her remarkable story.”

The stream will be posted at 11am on Tuesday 6 June. To register, visit