SPAR UK regional operator A.F. Blakemore appoints Carol Welch as new CEO

January 27, 2023 IN THE CATEGORY: People

SPAR UK regional partner A.F. Blakemore has announced that Carol Welch will join as Chief Executive in April, succeeding Jerry Marwood, who is leaving to focus more time on his non-executive directorships and consultancy roles.

Carol Welch joins the business from ODEON Cinemas Group, where she is Managing Director UK & Ireland and Commercial Officer Europe. Over the last six years, she has transformed ODEON’s customer and colleague experience. She has introduced Luxe recliner cinemas, new digital systems, more efficient operating models, and a purpose-driven, inclusive culture.

She has overseen the growth of commercial revenues across nine European markets and successfully navigated through the pandemic. Carol brings a significant depth and breadth of experience from branded food and drink, retail, and food service, having held positions at Costa Coffee, Associated British Foods, Cadbury-Schweppes, and PepsiCo. She is also a non-executive director at Hammerson plc.

Carol Welch said: “I am thrilled to join A.F. Blakemore as CEO. It is a fantastic business with a deep understanding of retail, wholesale and food service and an enviable values-led culture fuelled by more than 7,000 colleagues and partners passionate about delivering great food and drink solutions. I’m excited to be working with the shareholders and team to deliver their business ambition.”

Peter Blakemore, the company’s Chairman, commented: “We’re delighted that Carol is joining. She brings a wealth of experience from multiple sectors, a strong strategic vision, and an approach aligned with the Blakemore Way and values.

“Carol joining sees the culmination of our CEO succession plan following Jerry’s decision to leave the business at the end of this financial year. Jerry has done an outstanding job for Blakemore’s over the last 11 years, handing over strong sales performance and a strategic plan that will help us to deliver the innovation and ambition that are hallmarks of our business.”

Outgoing CEO Jerry Marwood said: “I’ve had a fabulous time at AFB and had the privilege of working with an outstanding group of people. Together we have proven that a privately owned family business can succeed in one of the most competitive markets in the UK and still uphold core values that make us all proud to be part of the team. Carol is a great recruit and clearly demonstrates our shareholders’ ambition for the future.”

Source: SPAR UK

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The UK became a SPAR member in 1956 when SPAR International granted the SPAR licence to a group of independent wholesalers. As a result, there are now five regional partners in the UK. A central office in London provides national marketing and buying services for the group.

SPAR has led the highly competitive convenience market in the UK for many years. Always innovative, the five regional partners continue to grow the brand. SPAR UK comprises independently owned licensed retailers and company-owned stores. These include forecourts, airports, train stations, city centres, and local neighbourhood stores.