Former Asda boss Allan Leighton is in discussions about becoming the first independent chairman of the Co-op as it seeks to overhaul its governance.

The Co-op board is due to meet today to ratify the appointment with an announcement expected as soon as this week, according to Sky News.

Leighton is being tapped up as part of the group’s attempts to modernise and professionalise the business after it suffered a period of crisis that included chief executive Euan Sutherland quitting and a massive deficit in its banking arm.

The Co-op appointed Lord Myners to peform a review of the structure of the mutual, although the Co-op decided not to adopt Myner’s recommendation that the democratically elected members be removed from the board.

Instead the Co-op proposed that the board should include three elected Co-op members, an independent chairman, five independent non-executive directors, and two executive directors including the chief executive.

Leighton has a number of non-executive chairman roles at retailers including Pandora, Matalan and Peacocks.

He has close ties to the group, having cited his father’s career as a Co-op store manager in a number of interviews.

Leighton also served as a non-exec chairman at the Royal Mail before its privatisation, where he advocated transforming the business into a mutually owned organisation.