Former Morrisons boss takes over at the Co-Op

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The Co-operative Group named ​former Morrisons finance chief ​Richard Pennycook as its permanent chief executive yesterday as it revealed a half-year pre-tax loss of £9​m.​ ​

Mr Pennycook​, who lives outside York,​ has been stand-in boss since Euan Sutherland walked out earlier this year claiming the beleaguered food-to-funerals group was ungovernable. ​

​The interim results come after the group reported a record £2.5​bn loss for 2013, as it was dragged down by the near-collapse of its banking arm – and days after a vote by members approved a radical shake-up in the way the group is run. ​

Mr Pennycook, who describes himself as ​adopted Yorkshireman, became Morrisons’ finance director in 2005 ​and played a key part​,​ alongside chief executive Marc Bolland, in ​reviving the Bradford-based grocer after the troubled takeover of Safeway in 2004​.

Mr Pennycook left Morrisons in 2013 ​after​ he was passed over for the top role in​ favour of Dalton Philips.​

Before joining Morrisons he was the finance director of motoring organisation RAC and before that he was finance director of cider group HP Bulmer and pubs group JD Wetherspoon.

He is a senior independent director at York-based housebuilder Persimmon and was awarded FTSE 100 Finance Director of the Year in 2011 at the FDs’ Excellence Awards​.

​Mr Pennycook​, who will be paid a basic salary of £1.3m, said the Co-op is ready to rebuild its shattered reputation

Previously finance director, he has been standing in as boss since March.

The group reported a record £2.5​bn comprehensive loss for 2013 as it was dragged lower by the near-collapse of its banking arm​,​ but said it ​has seen an overall return to profit.

Mr ​Pennycook said he ​i​s under no illusions about the scale of​ the job.

“The businesses are all underperforming and we make no bones about that, but they all fit very well with the purpose of the Co-op to serve our members and be at the heart of our communities,” he ​said.

H​e added there is still a lot of work to be done and admitted this ​i​s likely to mean further job cuts.​