MALCOLM HEPWORTH, head of the Co-operative Group's retail division, is leaving the society after seven years at the helm.
Group Chief Executive Martin Beaumont said: `Since his appointment as head of the division in 1997, Malcolm has led the successful growth and development of the Co-operative Group's food retail business which has more than doubled in size during his stewardship.
`The business operates in a highly competitive market, but is, I believe, well positioned for the years ahead.`
Added Mr Beaumont: `This fits in with Malcolm's wish to pursue the next stage of his career outside the Group and I agree that now is the time for a change. I wish him every success in the future`.
Mr Hepworth was previously General Manager of retail operations for the Group and, prior to that, spent 21 years with Gateway/Somerfield, rising from trainee store manager to main board director.
Commenting on his move, Mr Hepworth said: `I have immensely enjoyed the last 12 years with the Co-operative Group, but believe now is the right time to explore other opportunities. I know that I leave the retail business in capable hands and with an exciting future`.
Neil Braithwaite, Director of Finance and IT for the Group's retail division, is appointed acting head of the division with immediate effect until a permanent replacement is found. He will report to Mr Beaumont.