Neville Richardson’s claims that the Co-operative Bank suffered due to management stretch, has been denied by Peter Marks.
Mr Richardson, who was Chief Executive of the Bank between 2009 and 2011, told the Treasury committee in September that the integration of Britannia and Project Unity — an internal project integrating the Group’s businesses — was already stretching management. With two major change programmes already being run simultaneously Project Verde was “asking for failure”, according to Mr Richardson.
Peter Marks said he disagreed with Mr Richardson, who was the Chief Executive of Britannia, over his claims. Said Mr Marks: “[He] did express concern about management stretch, both to me and also to the Bank board.” He said this was discussed in the Bank board and with management, but “no one thought it was stretched so much” that Project Unity and Verde could not go ahead.
He added: “I did consult, on a number of occasions, with the Banking team, the executive, and asked the specific question ‘are we doing too much’ and ‘is this going to cause a problem’, and the answer was ‘no’. There was an enormous amount of enthusiasm for both Project Unity and Verde within the management team of the Bank.”
Mr Marks said Project Unity, which allowed the Bank and retail businesses to work together to save costs and to allow cross-selling across the Group, saved £70 million in the first 18 months. He added: “That doesn't seem to me to say there’s a management stretch problem.”