Buying group Associated Independent Stores (AIS) has appointed a new MD as part of a wider transformational agenda which includes the creation of a new Furniture and Home division.

Sue Kemp brings more than 30 years’ experience in retail- and customer-focused industries such as Merlin Entertainments and Marks and Spencer to the AIS team, following Sheila Cooper’s retirement after 40 years with the company. 

Her appointment forms part of a wider transformational plan for the business, with Sue set to take AIS through a period of change. The group is set to become more commercial and customer focused, commencing with the creation of a new Furniture and Home division.

Sue says: “I’m thrilled to be part of a thriving business supporting independent retailers across the UK – now more than ever. I was attracted to AIS as it’s a perfect mix of my experience, knowledge and expertise – not to mention the wealth of opportunities available working for such a successful business.

“AIS has grown and evolved with the fast-changing retail environment, and I look forward to developing the business yet further. I’m particularly focused on supporting my dedicated and talented team as we navigate these uncertain times together with a robust and exciting plan as we look to the future.”

Stephen McCammon, chairman of the AIS board, adds: “The board is delighted to have the opportunity to work with Sue, to navigate the journey ahead and begin to write this next chapter in our shared history. She’s perfectly placed to lead our team, developing the group and growing our members’ profitability as we continue to evolve.”

AIS is the largest independent non-food buying group of its type in the UK and Ireland, with some 300 members, all independent retailers of varying sizes, and a combined turnover in excess of £2b.