Frustration with the Co-operative Group’s democratic structures led to Euan Sutherland’s resignation as chief executive.
In an interview with the BBC’s Robert Peston, Mr Sutherland said his resignation after ten months at the co-operative had been long considered, but came to a head once the Observer had reported on his leaked £3m pay package – twice the amount received by the previous CEO.
There has been a string of recent boardroom discussions that have been passed to the media, including the leak of Mr Sutherland’s resignation offer itself, that led the former chief to attack one or more individuals on his board for “undermining” him and his team.
“The senior democrats talk the talk of reform, but in practice they won’t do it,” he told Robert Peston.
Mr Sutherland hopes that by resigning, the Group will implement a change in “management structure”. “My hope is that from the resignation will come healthy reform,” he said.
He added that, along with senior executives, he was “there for the pride of revitalising the Co-op”.
“We want it to become a campaigning organisation again, especially in communities,” said Mr Sutherland. “And it has to be for more than just the 600 activists [elected members], but also for the millions of members and customers.”
Mr Sutherland asked: “Who is the Co-op for? Is it for the 600 activists, the 90,000 employees or the millions of members and customers? In my view it is for all of them.”
On trying to push through changes at the Group, Mr Sutherland told the BBC: “I was committed to take through the reforms at the pace that the democrats wanted.”