The Co-operative Group has shaken up its food management team following the acquisition of Somerfield.

The restructure means the loss of six roles across the group.

For the first time a commercial function has been created in the food business to bring the existing buying and marketing teams under a single leadership. Sean Toal will become commercial director, moving from director of food retail operations. The Co-op said the move will ensure shoppers benefit from the Somerfield acquisition in terms of product choice, quality and promotions.

This move means the roles of director of food retail marketing and director of food retail trading held by Debbie Robinson and David Messom respectively, will cease to exist. Robinson will leave the business and Messom will remain for the time being to support the restructure and leave at a date to be confirmed.

Tim Hurrell, managing director, food, said: “I would like to thank both Debbie and David for the valuable contributions they have both made to the business over a considerable period of time, which has led to a marked improvement in our business performance and customer offer.  Sean’s appointment will ensure that we now take this momentum forward and secure our position as the premier community food retailer.“    

The group has also restructured the group marketing department. The responsibility for brand management is to be moved to each business unit, with the group marketing department retaining an overall role.

The marketing department, under the leadership of director of marketing Patrick Allen, will increase its focus on delivery of relevant customer promotions, switching from corporate brand marketing.

As a result, the roles of head of brand, head of identity and standards development, and head of brand communications, will become redundant. Also, the role of head of customer strategy – responsible for brand research – will become redundant.

Allen said: “Over the past few years The Co-operative has re-emerged as one of the strongest and most successful brands in the UK, measured by a number of key performance indicators including commercial success, consumer trust and customer advocacy.  The group marketing department has played a vital role in establishing this position.  The changes announced today, whilst regrettable in the areas where individual roles are impacted, are nevertheless necessary to further support the Co-operative Group and ensure that business momentum is sustained.“