Co-operative Group in crisis after chief executive issues resignation

A general view of a Co-operative food store.
The Co-operative accepted chief executive Euan Sutherland's resignation Photo: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

The Co-operative Group was thrown back into crisis today after its chief executive quit the "ungovernable" group in the wake of a meltdown in boardroom relations.

The firm accepted Euan Sutherland's resignation after he blamed "an individual, or individuals, determined to undermine me personally" by revealing details of his £3.66 million pay deal to a Sunday newspaper.

Chief financial officer Richard Pennycook has been appointed as interim chief executive.

ITV News Economics Editor Richard Edgar reports:

Mr Sutherland's departure after less than a year at the helm leaves the Co-op without a permanent boss and facing the biggest governance overhaul in its history.

In an emergency call last night following Mr Sutherland's resignation, the board agreed to be abolished in favour of a new "plc" style board including only executive and non-executive directors, responsible for taking commercial decisions.

It is understood the move came after former City minister and new board member Lord Myners brought forward details of his governance review - not due to be announced until next month.

But the board shake-up still needs to be finalised and agreed by Co-op members.

A source confirmed Mr Sutherland claimed in his letter of resignation to group chairman Ursula Lidbetter that the business had become "ungovernable".

He said today his decision was made after efforts to overhaul the business had been made "impossible" by the mutual's failure of governance.

But it is not thought he offered a "back-me-or-sack-me" ultimatum, with his resignation yesterday his final decision.