Dame Pauline Green is to retire as CEO of Co-operatives UK, the umbrella group for The Co-operative movement, next June.

She has held the post since January 2000 and was the first female CEO of the Co-operative Union, leading the organisation through its merger with the Industrial Common Ownership Movement to become Co-operatives UK in 2003. She was created Dame in the 2003 New Year Honours List for services to the co-operative movement and to the development of the European Union.

In November last year Dame Pauline urged the Co-op movement to focus on being successful retailers rather than debating becoming a single society. Her successor is yet to be appointed but Dame Pauline said she would work closely with Co-operatives UK’s board of directors to find a replacement and ensure a smooth handover.

“I will be 60 at the end of the year and I have always intended to retire when I reached that milestone,” she said.  Ben Reid, CEO of Midcounties Co-operative Society and chairman of Co-operatives UK, said: “Pauline has achieved a huge amount and her ­vision, focus and energy will be missed.”