Co-op Group appoints Allan Leighton as chairman

Allan Leighton Image copyright Co-operative Group
Image caption Allan Leighton joins the Co-op from jewellery retailer Pandora

The Co-operative Group has appointed former Asda boss Allan Leighton as its new chairman.

Mr Leighton is the group's first independent non-executive chair under its new management structure.

He is currently chief executive of High Street jewellery retailer Pandora, but will step down on 1 March.

Mr Leighton served as Asda's chief executive from 1996 to 2000 before joining Royal Mail as non-executive chairman.

The introduction of independent board members is part of sweeping changes to the Co-op's organisational structure.

In November last year, Sir Christopher Kelly became the first independent board member to be appointed.

The changes were brought in following a review by Lord Myners in which he called the group "manifestly dysfunctional" and recommended a major shake-up.

The review came after the group reported a £2.5bn loss in 2013 and its banking arm almost collapsed.

The group's board must now comprise a majority of independent directors - including an independent chairman and five independent non-executive directors.

However, the Co-op's board will include three positions for member-nominated directors, contrary to Lord Myners' recommendations.

The Manchester-based Co-op Group plans to appoint four more independent non-executive directors before its annual general meeting in May.

Mr Leighton has said that he knows Co-op's business well as his father ran a local branch.

He takes over from Ursula Lidbetter who has chaired the Co-op since November 2013.

More on this story