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Co-operative Group CFO becomes deputy CEO

Co-operative Group chief financial officer Martyn Wates will become deputy chief executive of the society alongside the current chief executive of its financial services business Neville Richardson, who also becomes deputy CEO for the group. Wates’s director of finance for food, Stephen Humes, is promoted to group CFO.

In a shakeup of the group’s operating structure intended to facilitate better cross-selling across Co-operative Financial Services (CFS) and the rest of the group’s product offerings, from 1 January 2011 Wates and Richardson will be second in command in their dual roles of deputy CEO, reporting to group CEO Peter Marks. Wates also takes on the role of CEO for specialist businesses.

Humes, who has been director of finance for the group’s key food business which has been completing the rebranding of its merged Somerfield stores in a large-scale rollout, will become group CFO.

The deputy CEOs split the group into two reporting lines. Reporting to Wates will be the group’s new specialist businesses executive, comprising Mike Austin, MD for its specialist commercial businesses; Neil Braithwaite, MD for its specialist retail businesses; John Nuttall, MD for pharmacy and George Tinning, MD for its funerals operation. Richardson will have the CFS executive reporting into him, which includes the MDs of its corporate and business banking and its retail operations, its director of risk, chief operating officer, integration and change directors, its director of organisation development and its CFO, Barry Tootell.

In the past three years, Co-operative Group has enjoyed a doubling in sales and profits, but chairman Len Wardle said the group had been traditionally weak at cross-selling products and at presenting a unified brand.

That echoed what incoming deputy CEO Wates told Financial Director in an exclusive interview in 2008. “Co-op has been very fragmented over the years, with a lot of small, independent societies each running their own business in their own way,” he said. “And the consumer hasn’t been able to get a grasp of what it stands for because it has not been uniform. In the past, people probably viewed us as a bit quaint, old fashioned, safe, solid and trustworthy, but not as exciting or modern as our rivals… we haven’t been able to project ourselves in the way that, say, Tesco has.”

Chief executive Marks added that the group aimed to grow its member base from its current six million to 20 million people by 2020.

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