JO WHITFIELD co-op web

Jo Whitfield

The Co-op has confirmed its interim CEO of Food, Jo Whitfield, is to take on the role permanently after what it described as a successful first four months in maintaining impetus in the business.

Whitfield, who joined the Co-op last year as food finance director, having previously been VP for Asda general merchandise, money and mobile, became interim CEO for food in February this year when Steve Murrells was appointed as group CEO to take over from Richard Pennycook.

Murrells said Whitfield had shown she was the right person for the job with a growth strategy centred on its core convenience operation.

He said since February the food business had maintained a strong performance, moved to support UK farmers by only providing 100% fresh British meat and announced “exciting” trials to develop its wholesale and franchising capabilities.

Whitfield was with Asda for eight years before joining the Co-op. She also previously held the position of finance director for Asda’s George clothing arm.

Murrells said: “Jo possesses all the key qualities of a Co-op leader. She is able to marry commercial acumen with the need to do business the Co-op way for the benefit of members and the communities in which we operate.

“I’m delighted she’s now confirmed fully in post and I look forward to working with her in the years ahead.”

Whitfield added: “It’s a great honour and privilege to become CEO at such an exciting time for Co-op Food and the Co-op as a whole. Whilst our market continues to be highly competitive, it is also clear that our focus on delivering a high-quality shopping experience, built around value, convenience and provenance, is working for our members and customers. My role is to ensure that we continue to deliver on the great progress we’ve made over the past few years and I’m excited by that challenge.”