Co-op poaches new group chief from Kingfisher

Kasmira Jefford
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THE Co-operative Group has hired a senior retail executive with no prior financial services experience to be its new chief executive, as it prepares to expand the size of its banking business.

The banking and supermarket conglomerate said Euan Sutherland, currently chief operating officer at home improvement retailer Kingfisher, will replace Peter Marks when he retires next year.

The mutually-owned group said Sutherland brings with him “considerable experience of the strategic leadership needed in complex customer-facing businesses”.

The 43-year old, who has also held senior roles at Superdrug and Mars, has sat on the board of the Co-op’s food division since 2010. Nevertheless his departure from Kingfisher came as a shock.

He was considered an heir apparent to Ian Cheshire, the retailer’s chief executive, and was promoted from running its high street business B&Q to his current role in June.

“Sutherland was, in our view, a major contributory factor in the recovery of the UK business over the last five years,” said Seymour Pierce analyst Freddie George.

The Co-op bought 632 bank branches from Lloyds this year, transforming the group into a powerful new rival to the UK’s big retail banks, and expanding Co-op’s high street presence to around 1,000 branches.