Former Johnson Matthey employee opens refill store

The Refill Shop of Ikigai

The Refill Shop of Ikigai owner Martin Cooper. - Credit: The Refill Shop of Ikigai

A former long-serving Johnson Matthey engineer has started a new business venture in Cambridgeshire. 

Martin Cooper was made redundant after 20 years at Johnson Matthey in Royston at the end of last year, having started as a technician and worked his way up to engineering maintenance manager.

He's now seized the opportunity to open an eco-friendly refill store in St Ives.

The Refill Shop of Ikigai - in White Hart Lane, just off the high street - opens today as an essential store. It will sell food and household cleaning products from a variety of local and eco suppliers - with COVID-secure measures in place.

The Refill Shop of Ikigai

The Refill Shop of Ikigai opens today in St Ives, Cambs. - Credit: The Refill Shop of Ikigai

Martin said: "Opening a refill shop has been something I've been thinking about for a while, so when I was made redundant in November, it felt like it was now or never!"

Martin has set up the refill store to help people reduce the amount of plastic waste they accrue when shopping in supermarkets, as well as allowing people to buy the amount of products they need, to help reduce food waste too.

The word 'ikigai' in the shop name comes from Japan, but has no direct translation. 'Iki' means life and 'gai' means purpose or reason for being.

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Martin continued: "I chose the shop name as it encompassed the aim to help people buy the products they use regularly, but have no way of purchasing without plastic - and generally single use plastic, such as pasta and rice.

"Everything sold will be in a refillable or reusable container or a compostable and biodegradable bag - even our loyalty cards are made from seed paper and can be planted when they're finished with!

"We are all aware of the impact we are having on the planet and I hope that the Refill Shop of Ikigai will help make it easier for people to make small changes and do their bit - and find their purpose."

"I know opening during the current lockdown isn't ideal, but all measures possible are in place to ensure we are COVID-secure, and we hope people will see us as great environmentally friendly alternative to supermarket shopping," said Martin.

The Refill Shop of Ikigai opens at 9.30am today. Hours will vary in the first few weeks, so customers are asked to check the shop’s Facebook and Instagram pages - @RefillShopOfIkigai or -