Co-op Group looks to end long tradition of members-only board

Tim Wallace
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EXECUTIVES in the Co-op Group could be appointed to the board in a bid to improve the expertise of the leadership, the firm said yesterday.

In the past the board has been made up of 20 people from the Co-op movement, voted in by the members who own the business.

But in the wake of the Paul Flowers scandal and the near collapse of the Co-op Bank, the group is looking at changing that set-up.

Former City minister Lord Myners is running a review of the governance structure in a drive to make the business more modern.

He is expected to make recommendations on strengthening the board’s structure and policies by the end of April.

A key challenge is keeping the Co-op’s distinctive democratic structure, while also making sure it is capably run and governed.

That will include “ensuring appropriately skilled board members lead the sub-committees to provide appropriate scrutiny, rigour and accountability,” according to the terms of reference of the review.

A key problem in the run-up to the Co-op Bank’s crisis was its then-chairman Reverend Flowers’ lack of banking experience. It has since emerged the regulators approved his appointment as a strong hand to guide an unwieldy board, a move which backfired as he overruled more experienced banking board members.

For the rest of the year Myners will look at improving the firm’s relations with members as well as staff.

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