Tim Hurrell, chief executive The Co-operative Group’s food business, is to retire at the end of this year.

He said the time was now right to hand over the reins, having taken responsibility for the food business in 2007.

“I am immensely proud of what we have achieved over the past few years and, despite the tough economic environment we currently face, I believe the business has never been better placed to meet customers’ and members’ needs,” he said.

Commercial director Sean Toal becomes acting CEO of the food business with immediate effect, until a permanent successor is found.

Group chief executive Peter Marks thanked Hurrell for his “massive contribution” to the business.

“This is an exciting time for The Co-op and for our food business in particular,” Marks said. “Over recent years we have transformed the business and are well placed for the next phase in our development as the UK’s favourite community retailer.”

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