The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has announced the appointment of Central England Co-operative chief executive Debbie Robinson as its new chair from November, with independent retailer Paul Stone taking on the role of vice chair.

Debbie Robinson will take the place of Sewell Retail managing director Patrick Sewell as chair of the board. Patrick has served as chair since November 2016, and will remain on the ACS board.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Patrick has been an outstanding chair over the past three years, demonstrating his unwavering commitment to ACS as we have continued to grow as an effective lobby group for the convenience sector. I am delighted to see Debbie taking on the role of chair, with Paul supporting her, as we move into our 25th year of being the voice of local shops.”

Debbie Robinson has held directorships for food retailers specialising in store innovation, brand strategy and global development and joined Central England Co-operative in March this year from Spar where she had been UK managing director since 2011.

She said: “I am honoured to be able to contribute to the amazing work that ACS carries out on behalf of such a diverse range of members. Our communities thrive when they have well run, safe convenience stores at their heart and so I want to ensure that we, as an organisation, make use of the latest in innovation to provide a truly relevant and progressive offer to our members and their customers”

Paul Stone owns six Spar stores in the centre of Manchester, each offering his own Cheeky Coffee brand. Paul’s store on Princess Street has won many awards including Best Independent Convenience store at the 2019 Convenience Retail Awards.

On becoming vice chair, he said: “I am delighted to take up the role of vice chair at ACS in its 25th year. As an independent retailer, I look forward to representing the interests of smaller stores in these challenging times.”

Debbie and Paul will take on the roles of chair and vice chair respectively from 1 November, with Paul Stone continuing in his role as a member of the independent board. David Roberts (Co-operative Food) will continue in the role of deputy vice chair.