Co-op Group appoints former Interserve CEO Debbie White as chair designate

White will succeed Allan Leighton in February 2024 when he reaches the end of his nine-year term

The Co-op Group announced today (13 July) that Debbie White will become its new chair when Allan Leighton steps down from the role in February 2024.

White has held a series of significant executive roles, including group chief executive of Interserve and global CEO for healthcare and government at Sodexo. More recently she has held a number of non-executive roles, including senior independent director at Spire Healthcare Group plc, Howden’s Joinery Group plc and PAVmed Inc.

“Debbie is the ideal person to take our co-op forwards over the coming years,” said Leighton. “She has extensive business experience across a range of sectors and I’m personally delighted that she will join us at this exciting time, as our co-op focuses on recruiting a million new members and providing top class products and services for our members and customers.

“Over the past nine years our co-op has regained its financial strength but it has never lost sight of its wider social commitments and responsibilities by delivering value to our member-owners. Under Debbie’s leadership I have every confidence that our co-op will continue to grow and to deliver against these commitments.”

Group CEO Shirine Khoury-Haq said: “It is testament to the strength and future potential of our co-op that we can attract someone of Debbie’s calibre and I’m looking forward to working closely with her as we embark on another exciting chapter in our co-op’s 180-year history. She has a proven track record, a commitment to our co-op values and principles, and is a role model for championing diversity and inclusion. She is a perfect fit for our co-op.

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“In welcoming Debbie I also want to thank Allan for the enormous support he’s provided to me personally and for the incredible turnaround he’s overseen for our co-op and our members over the past nine years.”

White said: “I am delighted and privileged to be taking up this role. The Co-op is an iconic business with an important role to play in supporting the needs of our members and wider society. I’m really looking forward to working with Shirine, our board, our National Members Council and our 57,000 colleagues, to grow our co-op further and to build upon the existing momentum already in place.

“The Co-op is the original business with purpose, with ambitious plans to grow further in the coming years and I’m excited by the prospect of being a part of a business which exists to meet the needs of its members.”

Debbie is expected to join the board as an independent non-executive director in August before taking on the role of chair in February 2024 as Leighton reaches the end of his nine-year term.