Former Co-op chief executive of food Jo Whitfield has reportedly emerged as the frontrunner for the vacant top job at embattled fashion retailer Matalan.

Jo Whitfield, former Co-op Food boss

Jo Whitfield is the frontrunner for the top job at Matalan

Whitfield, who left the Co-op last year following a sabbatical, is in advanced talks with the new investor owners of Matalan, according to Sky News. 

Her main competition for the role is the retailer’s current interim boss, Nigel Oddy. It is understood that a decision will be made no later than the middle of next week. 

Prior to her seven-year stint at the Co-op, Whitfield spent eight years at supermarket giant Asda, where she worked as senior vice-president of general merchandise, Asda Money and Asda Mobile. 

If she was to get the job, it would represent something of a homecoming for Whitfield, who spent six years as head of finance at Matalan in the early 2000s, having joined from GE Capital.

Matalan was acquired from the Hargreaves family on January 16 by an investment consortium led by Invesco, Man GLG, Napier Park and Tresidor.

As a result of the takeover, founder and former chair John Hargreaves stepped down following an unsuccessful bid for control of the company.

Alongside searching for a new chair and chief commercial officer, the new owners have pledged £100m of investment for the retailer and significantly reduced its debt position.

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