The women’s network was founded by Co-op Food CEO Jo Whitfield in February 2019

Grocery Girls, the women’s network founded by Co-op Food CEO Jo Whitfield has attracted almost 1,000 members in its first year.

Grocery Girls was launched last February and aims to inspire and empower women at all stages in their career into senior leadership roles.

Its membership is made up of women from both retailers and suppliers. It has so far held development days and networking events throughout the year, in Manchester and London. It also launched its website,, in September and began issuing monthly newsletters and regular blogs last month.

It said it was committed to promoting inclusion by sharing stories from a range of perspectives and bringing all backgrounds and genders into the conversation.

Its stated ambition is to help everyone in the industry understand the importance of a diverse workforce, with the aim of, ultimately, creating one.

“It’s amazing that Grocery Girls is a year old,” said Whitfield. “I am grateful for the support our network has achieved in the past year with other retailers, food manufacturers and their suppliers encouraging their female colleagues to join.

“We have all met new people and are making strong business networks and friendships and we’ve had fun along the way. It’s been truly inspirational, and we have exciting plans to give more talented women the opportunity to come together, share experiences and develop the necessary skills to advance their careers. We know that bringing women together can only bring positive outcomes and ultimately grow all of our businesses.”

Ros Collins, Speedibake head of new business, foodservice and out of home, who is a Grocery Girls volunteer, added: “Over the past year, I’ve found a network of like-minded people with the same energy and ambition as me. Hearing their stories and sharing my own has helped me build confidence, start recognising my strengths and appreciate the value of being myself. Many of the women I’ve met also face the same challenges as a woman in this industry, and I’m excited to watch as we give women the support they need to shatter the glass ceiling.”