Richard Pennycook helmed the most dramatic turnaround in modern retailing – here he discusses his role at the Co-op and his latest career move.

When Richard Pennycook was parachuted into the Co-op as finance director back in June 2013, it was a business on the brink.

In the space of just a few turbulent months, the group had lost a clutch of its senior management, its bank was downgraded to junk status by Moody’s, a £1.5bn hole was discovered in its balance sheet and the Treasury Select Committee had launched an inquiry.

By March 2014 – having already lasted three times as long as his initial interim remit suggested – Pennycook was thrust into the role of chief executive after his predecessor, Euan Sutherland, exited acrimoniously and declared the Co-op “ungovernable”.

But Pennycook was able not only to save the bank – and the wider group – from collapse, but to steady the ship by making sweeping changes to the mutual’s governance and return the Co-op to growth.

Having led the dramatic turnaround for the past three years, Pennycook stepped down from his role earlier this year to build a portfolio career.

As he officially takes up his latest non-executive role, as chairman of department store business Fenwick, Pennycook relives his time at the Co-op, lifts the lid on his regrets from his time with the mutual and discusses the issues facing British department stores today.

To read Retail Week’s interview with Richard Pennycook, click here.

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