Co-op Group chief Sutherland quits ‘with great sadness’

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Co-op group British co-operative movement Co-operatives uk The co-operative group

Pennycook has become acting ceo of the Co-op Group
Pennycook has become acting ceo of the Co-op Group
Euan Sutherland, ceo of The Co-operative Group, has resigned “with great sadness”, claiming a sustainable future for the organisation is “impossible” without sweeping changes.

Sutherland reportedly tendered his resignation at an emergency board meeting yesterday (March 10). Richard Pennycook, chief financial officer, has taken the helm as interim ceo.

In a statement issued by the Co-op Group today, Sutherland is quoted as saying: "It is with great sadness that I have resigned as chief executive. I have given my all to the business and had hoped to be able to lead its revival.

“However, I now feel that until the group adopts professional and commercial governance it will be impossible to implement what my team and I believe are the necessary changes and reforms to renew the group and give it a relevant and sustainable future.”

‘Fundamental modernisation’

“Fundamental modernisation”​ was needed to safeguard the future of staff and members, he said.

Sutherland said he had dropped all the retention and incentive bonuses he was paid for steering The Co-op Bank and The Co-op Group through an extremely rocky 2013.

Co-op Group chair Ursula Lidbetter said: “It is with deep regret that I accept Euan’s resignation. Last year, Euan and his team saved the The Co-operative Bank, without recourse to the taxpayer, and in doing so rescued the group from the biggest crisis in its 150-year history.


“They have worked night and day to renew the organisation and to give it a sustainable future. Euan’s resignation must now act as a catalyst for the real and necessary change which the group must go through. I would like to thank Euan for his hard work and leadership and to wish him the very best for the future.

Lidbetter said the group would now “start the process to appoint a permanent successor and urgently to reform our governance”.

Pennycook said: “Our businesses continue to perform in line with the clear commercial plans put in place under Euan's leadership and I and the team will plot a steady course in the coming months.”

BBC News business editor Robert Peston claimed on Radio 4vs Today Programme​ this morning that Sutherland had tendered his resignation yesterday (March 10) at an emergency board meeting.

The move could be viewed as “broadly”​ a “back me or sack me”​ tactic, Peston acknowledged. However he stressed Sutherland had become frustrated by press criticism of predictions he was on track to get a £3.6M bonus, despite the Co-op Group’s continued financial struggles, and by the way the organisation was governed.

The group announced three weeks ago that it was seeking to sell off its farms in a bid to reverse predicted annual losses of approaching £2bn​. Its full-year results are expected to be announced on March 26.

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