East of England Co-operative — Britain’s third biggest independent society — is to continue to be run by a four-strong management team following the announcement that former Chief Executive Richard Samson has left the society after being on ‘gardening leave’ since mid-December.
The society said Mr Samson took early retirement at the end of September, following agreement being reached over the terms of his departure.
Mr Samson, formerly CEO of Heart of England Co-op, moved on to become chief officer at the old Ipswich & Norwich Society and became Chief Executive of the new East of England Society, which was created as a result of the merger with Colchester Co-op in 2005.
However following unconfirmed reports of a major disagreement with his board, he was put on gardening leave until December this year, with the society stating in its annual report that it recognised an expense of £450,000 relating to employing Mr Samson until the end of this year.
In January, East of England President John Pendle said the society would be looking to appoint a new Chief Executive, but the board have now decided not to disrupt the existing leadership team of Roger Grosvenor (Group General Manager, Trading); Maria McGettigan (Group General Manager, HR); Doug Field (Group General Manager, Finance & Technology) and Mike Faulkner (Secretary).
Mr Faulkner told the News: “The Management Executive is collectively assuming the role and responsibilities of Chief Executive as the society’s leadership team. The society is not seeking to recruit a new Chief Executive.”
Meanwhile an East of England statement said: “The board will continue to review its business structure to ensure it remains an independent co-operative, owned and accountable to its members. It will structure its Executive to reflect the necessary changes to take the business forward in a dynamic way.”
Mr Pendle added: “The directors are pleased to have reached agreement with Richard on the basis of his departure and would like to thank him for his leadership and commitment to the society during a period of major transformation. We wish him every success in his future endeavours.”
Following his departure from East of England, Mr Samson has resigned from his position as a director of the Co-operative Group.