Murrells to succeed Pennycook as Co-op CEO

Steve Murrells

The Co-op Group, based in Manchester, said Richard Pennycook is to step down as group CEO and will be succeeded by Steve Murrells, currently CEO of the Co-op’s food business.

Pennycook, who joined the Co-op at the height of its crisis in 2013, has agreed to act as an advisor to the group, focusing on its relations with the Co-operative Bank.

“This arrangement will be reviewed on a quarterly basis and he will be paid a fee of £20,000 a month while the consultancy arrangement is in place,” said the group.

Murrells’ basic salary will remain £750,000 a year when he takes over as CEO.

Pippa Wicks, currently chief operating officer, becomes deputy CEO.

Jo Whitfield, currently finance director of the Co-op’s food business, will become CEO of Co-op Food on an interim basis.

Allan Leighton, chair of the Co-op, said: “Richard Pennycook saved our Co-op.

“In three short years he has rescued and rebuilt our business and restored pride to our 70,000 colleagues and 4.5 million members.

“We owe Richard a huge debt of gratitude and his place in Co-op history is secured.

“We are fortunate to have Steve as our new group CEO.

“He is a natural co-operator, a great leader and has already done so much to return our Co-op to its former glory.

“Steve has transformed our food business and put it back at the heart of communities across the country.”

Pennycook said: “Leaving the Co-op was always going to be hard, but the time is right.

“The CEO who is to lead the renewal phase in 2018 has to be the CEO who builds the plan in 2017.

“In passing the baton to Steve, I leave safe in the knowledge that the Co-op will be taken forward by a leader who shares our vision of what can be achieved in the future.

“Steve has a terrific team around him and an organisation that has rediscovered its self-confidence.”

Murrells said: “I’m honoured to have this opportunity to lead our Co-op and to serve our millions of members.

“I take over at one of the most exciting times in our 150 year history.”

Murrells, 50, was previously CEO of Danish meat company Tulip.