The Co-op has appointed Jo Whitfield as the boss of its food business, succeeding Steve Murrells.

jo whitfield

Whitfield, who joined the Co-op as food finance director last year, has been in charge on an interim basis since Murrells was promoted to the role of group chief executive in February.

The Co-op said Whitfield has overseen “a successful interim period” in which she “maintained the impetus of the business”.

The convenience specialist has built trading momentum in the past two years after rejuvenating its own brand offer, refurbishing stores and resurrecting its famous cloverleaf logo.

Meaty sales figures

Since Whitfield took interim charge, the Co-op has moved to support UK farmers by sourcing all of its fresh meat from Britain and lifted the lid on trials to develop its wholesale capabilities.

The moves have borne fruit, with the mutual’s food business growing sales 2.2% in the 12 weeks to June 18 according to the latest Kantar figures, against a tough year-on-year comparable of 6.3%.

Whitfield said: “It’s a great honour and privilege to become CEO at such an exciting time for Co-op Food and the Co-op as a whole.

“Whilst our market continues to be highly competitive, it is also clear that our focus on delivering a high-quality shopping experience, built around value, convenience and provenance is working for our members and customers.

“My role is to ensure that we continue to deliver on the great progress we’ve made over the past few years and I’m excited by that challenge.”

Murrells added: “Jo possesses all the key qualities of a Co-op leader. She is able to marry commercial acumen with the need to do business the Co-op way for the benefit of members and the communities in which we operate.

“I’m delighted she’s now confirmed fully in post and I look forward to working with her in the years ahead.”