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New funeral home and improved food stores earmarked for East Anglia

PUBLISHED: 11:02 03 February 2019 | UPDATED: 11:03 03 February 2019

A new funeral home is to be created locally by the Central England Co-operative in a multi million pound nationwide investment programme. Pic: www.centralengland.coop

A new funeral home is to be created locally by the Central England Co-operative in a multi million pound nationwide investment programme. Pic: www.centralengland.coop

A new funeral home is to be created in Lowestoft and food stores revamped as part of a nationwide investment of £13.4 million by the Central England Co-operative.

"The Co-op is opening funeral homes at an alarming rate," Mark Hall, Rosedale Funeral Home, which has branches across Norfolk and Suffolk. Pic: www.rosedalefuneralhome.co.uk

The Co-op will also be revamping food stores across Norfolk; in Bradwell and Loddon and Suffolk; in Carlton Colville, Lowestoft and Eye. A complete new food store will also be opening in Suffolk’s Thornley Green area of Stowupland as part of the expansion project.

The news provoked a mixed response from local independent funeral directors.

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Mark Hall, from Rosedale Funeral Home, with branches across Norfolk and Suffolk, and who is a tutor for the National Association of Funeral Directors, said: “My worry is the confusion this is creating for the public. The Co-op are opening up at an alarming rate.

“Now with the flooding of the marketplace we have a situation of sometimes three Co-op brands in the same town which can lead to confusion in pricing and varying standards.”

But Simon Woodbridge, a funeral director at Robert Minns independent funeral service, in Norwich, welcomed a new service to “contribute to the great number of individuals who are very knowledgeable and very capable of giving support and caring for the bereaved.”

However, he said that the industry, particularly the corporate funeral directors, were being looked at nationally because of some evidence of a lack of transparency in the charging system.

“I think we have in Norfolk and Suffolk some excellent funeral directors and it’s in our DNA to have good, caring characteristics but it is important that we have transparent charging.”

The new investment programme by the Central England Co-op will create “tens of new jobs”, according to its chief executive Martyn Cheatle.

He added: “We are really proud of the success of our business, especially with our continued good performance in what is a highly competitive and increasingly uncertain trading environment.”

The Co-op opened 10 new food stores and six funeral homes and relaunched 22 funeral sites and 30 convenience stores across the UK last year.

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