Lincolnshire Co-op appoints new chief financial and operating officers

Paul Howard joins from fashion retailer Boohoo as CFO and Steve Leach moves from Vets Now to become COO

Lincolnshire Co-op has appointed a new chief financial officer (CFO) and chief operating officer (COO) to its executive team. 

The appointments, taking effect in March, will see Paul Howard join from fashion retailer Boohoo as CFO and Steve Leach move from Vets Now to become COO.

Howard has experience across both private and listed retail businesses, both in the UK and overseas, and served as head of supply chain finance for the past two years. Previously, he progressed through the ranks at Wilko, where he held senior finance roles across commercial finance, treasury, financial control and strategic planning, as well as a two-year stint in Hong Kong as finance director for the group’s sourcing office. 

“Lincolnshire Co-op has a strong purpose that resonates with my values – integrity, commitment and making a positive contribution,” he said. “The breadth of the consumer proposition brings exciting challenges and lots of growth potential.

“I’m excited to join a business that’s rich in history and heritage and look forward to adding value from my experience in strategic financial planning.”

Leach has held leadership roles at M&S, Sainsbury’s, Boots, Vodafone, Co-op Group/Nisa and was most recently interim COO at Vets Now.

He started his career in store management and then progressed into retail operations. His sector experience includes general merchandise, health and beauty, telecomms, food, delivered wholesale and veterinary healthcare. 

“I’m delighted to be joining Lincolnshire Co-op to support the team in delivering the purpose of bringing together ideas, energy and resources to make life better in our local communities,” he said.

“I’m enthusiastic about the opportunities that the team are currently working on and transferring my leadership experience to continue this momentum into sustainable long-term success.”

Henry Breese, interim CFO, and Mark Finn, acting COO, will be leaving Lincolnshire Co-op at the end of March. 

“I’d like to thank Mark and Henry for their commitment and significant contribution during their time with us,” said CEO Alison Hands. “They’ll continue to offer their support to us during the transition period and ensure a smooth handover.”

The society has over 295,000 members and runs a diverse trading business including food stores, filling stations, pharmacies, post offices, travel branches, funeral homes and a large property portfolio.