Co-op lorries

Co-op Group COO Chris Whitfield has left the business after almost a decade at the society.

Whitfield confirmed the move in a post on social media platform X over the weekend.

“After nine years at The Co-op it’s time to move on for a fresh challenge,” he said.

“I’m particularly grateful for the support of frontline colleagues working in stores and depots who really do set the Co-op apart. I’ll always be proud of everything we achieved together.”

The Grocer understands Whitfield took a step back from his COO role at the end of 2023 and had agreed to support a transition of his responsibilities and establish a number of strategic projects.

These responsibilities are now being split between Derek Furnival and Kate Graham, who are director of supply and logistics and director of stores and operations respectively.

Furnival has been with the Co-op for 13 years and Graham 14 years.

Whitfield joined the Co-op in March 2015, having previously spent almost 20 years at Tesco. During that time he held a number of senior stores and operational roles, including as stores director for both Tesco’s Extra outlets and its Express convenience format. Prior to joining Co-op he spent three years as chief operating officer for Tesco Lotus Thailand.

During his tenure as Co-op COO, he was widely credited with playing a key role in the turnaround of the business, which had been brought to the brink by the 2013 Co-op Bank scandal. Co-op did not reveal any details of Whitfield’s future plans or if he has another job lined up.