Well. You wait over 150 years for a Co-op scandal and then you get about 27 at once, certainly judging by the ongoing turbulence at the group’s banking division. Arguably a case of an organisation havng bitten off more than it can chew, it cast a shadow over the stability of the group as a whole.

Well. You wait over 150 years for a Co-op scandal and then you get about 27 at once, certainly judging by the ongoing turbulence at the group’s banking division. Arguably a case of an organisation havng bitten off more than it can chew, it cast a shadow over the stability of the group as a whole.

While the tabloids are having a field day over the allegations concerning former bank chair Paul Flowers’ leisure activities, perhaps the most concerning aspect was that he was appointed in the first place.

A great deal of speculation is calling into question his appointment, given what appears to be his lack of experience in financial services and suggestions that his appointment was politically motivated rather than through any sort of meritocratic process.

A period of introspection in on the cards, and the entire Co-operative movement is set to take a long hard look at its structure, processes and democratic ethos. While there is much about the Co-op and its ethical stance that is both noble and laudable, the clash between this culture and the cut-throat capitalism in which its businesses operate is becoming more noticeable.

The influx of senior retailers (former B&Q chief Euan Sutherland as chief executive and former Morrisons finance director Richard Pennycook as chief financial officer) from outside of the Co-operative movement suggests that the group is attempting to pull more commercial rigour into the business. Arguably a long overdue move.

This morning’s data from Kantar Worldpanel shows that the Co-op remains the undisputed laggard of the grocery market, despite inhabiting the theoretical sweet-spot of convenience retailing. Sutherland has been fairly open about the issues that the food retail business is facing as well as the potential remedies that need to be put in place to improve its performance.

It is here that the cultural backdrop of the Co-operative movement will be key. Hard decisions will need to be made in a Plc fashion, while hopefully clinging on to some of the noble values that the broader organisation holds dear. The Co-op could do worse than take a look at the John Lewis Partnership to see how this could be done.    

The Co-op chair steps down early amid management controversy