The Co-operative Group has hired Kingfisher group chief operating officer Euan Sutherland as its new group chief executive.

Sutherland will join in May next year, following the retirement of existing boss Peter Marks. Before being promoted to his current Kingfisher role, the highly regarded 43 year old was chairman of B&Q and chief executive of Kingfisher UK & Ireland.

Sutherland is also a non-executive director of The Co-operative Group’s Food board, and a non-executive director of fashion group SuperGroup. It is thought Kingfisher will not necessarily appoint a like-for-like replacement for Sutherland.

The Co-operative Group chair Len Wardle said: “I am delighted that Euan is to be The Co-operative Group’s next group chief executive. He brings with him considerable experience of the strategic leadership needed in complex customer-facing businesses, across a variety of retail sectors, and we very much look forward to welcoming him and working together.”

Sutherland said: “The Co-operative is a great brand and I am very pleased to be given the opportunity to lead the organisation at this important time. The challenge is to build upon the success that has been achieved in recent years and the solid foundations that have been laid for its future growth.”

Sutherland, who was ranked number 20 in the Retail Week Power List this year, was previously chief executive of AS Watson UK, owner of retailers Superdrug and Savers. He has 18 years’ experience at retail and consumer goods companies such as Boots, Dixons, Coca-Cola, and Mars.

Kingfisher said Sutherland will remain in his current role at the DIY giant until March to allow “an extensive handover of his responsibilities, further details of which will be announced in due course”.

Kingfisher group chief executive Ian Cheshire said: “I would like to thank Euan for his contribution to Kingfisher over the last four and a half years. He has played an important part in the successful development of the group and I wish him well in his new role.

“A key element of our success in recent years has been bringing together our international teams and harnessing their talent to work on common goals. As a result, Kingfisher today has great strength and depth in its management and I will personally be involved in the transition as Euan’s responsibilities are handed over.

“I look forward to working closely with our management teams as we continue with our ‘Creating the Leader’ strategy.”

Independent analyst Nick Bubb referred to the move as “shock news” . He said the Co-op role involves challenges in “both food retailing and banking”.

Bubb added: “It’s a surprise that Sutherland wants to give up his position as heir apparent to Ian Cheshire, unless he thinks Cheshire will stick around for a lot longer as group chief executive.

“As for Kingfisher, they will regroup and reorganise from within, but Euan’s departure is a blow.”