Successor being sought
The chief executive of the£8 billion-turnover Co-operative Group is to retire next October after five years in the job.

Martin Beaumont, who has overseen the group's exit from traditional businesses such as milk processing and car sales, said he was leaving the 3,000-strong store group with 'a strong platform' for future growth.

At its half-year results in September, the company said that its pre-tax profit had jumped 32 per cent to£157.4 million. Like-for-like sales rose 3.3 per cent in the food retail business and 7 per cent at its convenience stores.

Co-operative chairman Bob Burlton said Beaumont had 'successfully steered the group through a defining period in its history' and had 'tackled the legacy and structural issues that have impeded our performance in the past'.

The Co-op Group board will discuss appointing Beaumont's successor at a meeting next month.

Meanwhile, the Co-op's pharmacy division revealed today that it has appointed Gordon Farquhar - formerly operations general manager at Halfords - as head of commercial.