Ben Reid, chief executive of the UK’s largest independent retail society, has announced his plan to retire this autumn.
Mr Reid moved to Walsall in 1988 when he was appointed deputy chief executive of West Midlands Co-op. He became chief executive in 1992, then West Midlands merged with the Oxford, Swindon and Gloucester (OSG) Society in September 2005 to become Midcounties.
Bob Burlton, from OSG, was chief executive of the new society while Mr Reid was the acting chief executive designate until he replaced Mr Burlton, who retired the following year. He has also previously been a Co-operative Group board member, a director of Co-operative Financial Services and chair of Co-operatives UK.
Ruth FitzJohn, president of Midcounties, said Mr Reid had served his 38 years in the co-operative movement “with distinction”.
“Midcounties has grown considerably under his leadership, expanding its reach through Co-operative Childcare and Co-operative Energy, while continuing to uphold co-operative values,” she said.
“Ben will leave the Society in a strong position as it looks to continue its development as an Independent Society.”
Ed Mayo, secretary general of Co-operatives UK, also paid tribute to a career that “made a truly outstanding contribution to the UK co-operative sector”.
“In addition to guiding Midcounties through such a period of success, Ben has given his time and skills to support the co-operative sector as a whole, as an exemplary Chair of Co-operatives UK, in his commitment to supporting the international co-operative movement and as a champion of member democracy and the Fair Tax Mark,” he said.
“Ben Reid will be missed on his retirement later this year, and his legacy will be strong.”
Mr Reid commented: “I have enjoyed my time in the co-operative movement, most recently helping to build Midcounties into a strong society serving its members and proud of its independence. It was always my intention to retire when the Society was positioned well for the future.
“I look forward to working with my colleagues at Midcounties through into the autumn when I can handover to the new leadership team who I am sure will take the Society from strength to strength.”
As well as being a leading figure in the co-op movement, Mr Reid has played a key role in helping regenerate Walsall. Between 2003-2009, he was the chair of the Walsall Regeneration Company, which supported redevelopment of Walsall Manor Hospital and Walsall College, and was formerly chair of Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust. He was awarded an OBE in 2010 for “services to business and to the community in Walsall”.
Ms FitzJohn confirmed that the Midcounties board has commenced a process for the recruitment of Mr Reid’s successor. “In the meantime, Ben will continue to lead the Society,” she said. “The Board will continue to support Ben in his application to be elected to the Board of the International Co-operative Alliance in the elections that will be held later in the year.”