Co-operative Group chief executive Euan Sutherland has resigned from his post with immediate effect, plunging the Manchester-headquartered business into yet more turmoil.
Sutherland, a former marketer for Coca-Cola, Curry’s and Matalan, tendered a letter of resignation to the Co-op board this morning saying that his job of overhauling the business had become “impossible”.
That letter was this afternoon accepted by Co-op chairwoman Ursula Lidbetter with “deep regret”, and chief financial officer Richard Pennycook installed as interim chief executive.
Sutherland said: “It is with great sadness that I have resigned as chief executive. I have given my all to the business and had hoped to be able to lead its revival.
“However, I now feel that until the Group adopts professional and commercial governance it will be impossible to implement what my team and I believe are the necessary changes and reforms to renew the Group and give it a relevant and sustainable future.”
Lidbetter added: “Euan’s resignation must now act as a catalyst for the real and necessary change which the group must go through.”
Sutherland’s resignation comes after details of his £3.6m salary package were leaked to the Observer newspaper over the weekend.
That led to the Scot using a Facebook post to hit out at the “disaffected people” within the Group who were seeking to “undermine” him.
Only last month, he spearheaded the launch of the organisation’s biggest ever piece of research and engagement, an online survey called Have Your Say that was intended to help relaunch the Group’s brand and draw a line under what has been the most miserable period in its 150-year history.
That period has included the discovery of a £1.5bn black hole in its finances, causing the collapse of a deal to buy 630 branches from Lloyds bank, and the resignation of disgraced former Co-op Bank chairman Rev Paul Flowers. National newspaper campaigns, run in January and November, have clearly been a waste of money.
With losses predicted to be over £2bn when the Group announces its yearly results on March 26, there is no end in sight for the turbulence that is currently affecting the Group and its 90,000 staff.