The Co-op Group has announced the appointment of Steve Murrells as its new chief executive.
Mr Murrells, currently CEO of the Co-op’s food business, will replace Richard Pennycook, who is stepping down to return to a planned portfolio career he put on hold when he joined the organisation on an interim basis.
My Pennycook joined the Group in 2013 at the height of its crisis, and led the ‘Rescue’ and ‘Rebuild’ phases of a three-part turn-around. The Group has stated the announcement is part of transition arrangements as it prepares to move on to the final ‘Renewal’ phase.
“Richard Pennycook saved our Co-op,” said Allan Leighton, Co-op Group chair. “In three short years he has rescued and rebuilt our business and restored pride to our 70,000 colleagues and 4.5 million members. We owe Richard a huge debt of gratitude and his place in Co-op history is secured.
“We are fortunate to have Steve as our new Group CEO. He is a natural co-operator, a great leader and has already done so much to return our Co-op to its former glory. Steve has transformed our food business and put it back at the heart of communities across the country. His leadership has seen our Co-op consistently outperform the market in food and he is the right and unanimous choice to now take the whole Group forward for the next phase of our transformation.”
Steve Murrells joined the Group to run its food business in 2012 and will join the Group Board on 1 March, when Mr Pennycook steps down.
Pippa Wicks (currently Group chief operating officer) will become deputy CEO with responsibility for delivery of the remaining aspects of the Group’s transformation. Jo Whitfield (currently Food finance director) will become CEO of Co-op Food on an interim basis.
Mr Pennycook has agreed to act as an advisor to the Group, primarily focusing on its relations with the Co-operative Bank.
“Leaving the Co-op was always going to be hard, but the time is right,” he said. “The CEO who is to lead the Renewal phase in 2018 has to be the CEO who builds the plan in 2017.
“In passing the baton to Steve, I leave safe in the knowledge that the Co-op will be taken forward by a leader who shares our vision of what can be achieved in the future. Steve has a terrific team around him and an organisation that has rediscovered its self-confidence. I could not be more proud of them all and wish them great success in the future.”
President of the Co-op National Members Council, Nick Crofts, commented: “Our Co-op survived the crisis of 2013 largely down to Richard Pennycook’s leadership, and on behalf of our millions of members I thank him for that.
“Steve Murrells is Co-op through and through and a fantastic choice to lead our business into the future. I was delighted to have been part of the appointment process and look forward to working with Steve to strengthen and grow our membership.”