LONDON Feb 7 Britain's Co-operative Group
said Richard Pennycook, its CEO who played a key role
in steering the group through a 2013 crisis, is to step down on
March 1 and be succeeded by Steve Murrells, the current boss of
the group's food business.
The mutually-owned supermarkets to funeral services group
said on Tuesday that Pennycook, who has since led its
rebuilding, would remain as an adviser to the group, primarily
focusing on its relations with the Co-operative Bank.
The Co-op nearly collapsed in 2013 after a 1.5 billion-pound
($1.9 billion) funding "hole" was found in the banking
operation. But it has recovered under Pennycook, aided by the
shift in Britons' grocery shopping habits towards more frequent
trips to smaller convenience stores.
"Richard Pennycook saved our Co-op," said Co-op Chair Allan
"In three short years he has rescued and rebuilt our
business and restored pride to our 70,000 colleagues and 4.5
million members. We owe Richard a huge debt of gratitude and his
place in Co-op history is secured."
Former Morrisons finance chief Pennycook, who joined
the Co-op on an interim basis having put on hold a planned
portfolio career, has signalled that he now wishes to return to
that plan, said the Co-op.
Murrells joined the Co-op to run its food business in 2012.
In other changes Pippa Wicks, currently group chief
operating officer, becomes deputy CEO, while Jo Whitfield,
currently finance director of the food business, will become CEO
of Co-op Food on an interim basis.
Last month the Co-op said it enjoyed strong trading in the
final quarter of 2016, helped by the positive impact of a new
($1 = 0.8067 pounds)
(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Adrian Croft)