Patrick Allen, former marketing boss at The Co-op Group

Name: Patrick Allen
Was: Executive director of marketing at The Co-operative Group
Now: CEO of One Degree Capital
Years in grocery: 35

Career background: Allen started his career working as an apprentice on his uncle’s fruit and veg stall in Bury. After gaining a degree and an MBA, he went on to join accountancy firm Parnell Kerr Forster in its corporate advisory department, before moving to Electronic Data Systems. He then gained a PhD, set up his own marketing consultancy, securing clients such as Allied Domecq, Emirates and IBM. In 2004, he joined United Co-operatives as marketing director and helped build turnover from £300,000 to £2.5bn in three years. Following its merger with The Co-op Group in 2007, he became executive director of marketing. He left in July 2010 and joined the LNT Group as group commercial director.

At The Co-op: Allen took the Co-op brand from outside Britain’s top 100 to number 24, and number six in the retail brand sector within two years. He was responsible for the complete rebrand and rejuvenation of the group and its £1.5bn store refit programme. In 2010, he was voted number one in a list of the top 100 marketers in the North West.

What is he doing now? Allen is now CEO of One Degree Capital, a private equity company he co-founded with serial entrepreneur Graham Leslie and which invests in a range of business interests including food retail.

Plans for the future: “It’s great to be still involved in food retail: it’s the best business to be in. I’ve always enjoyed the theatre of food retail and the immediacy of customer feedback, whether we’ve got it right or wrong. I’ve been taking an interest recently in The Co-op Group and its current difficulties and hope that it rejuvenates and emerges stronger than it was before.”