Co-op hires B&Q boss for top job

Co-operativeThe Co-operative Group has produced a surprise by naming a senior boss at B&Q owner Kingfisher as its next chief executive.

Euan Sutherland, chief operating officer at home improvements group Kingfisher - which owns Screwfix as well as DIY giant B&Q - had been seen as a possible successor to the FTSE 100 company's chief executive Ian Cheshire.

Mr Sutherland, 43, will arrive at the Co-op in May, succeeding Peter Marks, who recently created the UK's fifth-largest food retailer with the capture of supermarket Somerfield. Mr Sutherland is already a non-executive director for the group.

Co-op chairman Len Wardle said he had considerable experience of the "strategic leadership needed in complex customer-facing businesses".

Mr Sutherland has been at Kingfisher since 2008, starting as chief executive of B&Q and Kingfisher UK before becoming group chief operating officer in February 2012 and joining the board in October.

He was previously chief executive of AS Watson UK, which owns retailer Superdrug, and has also worked at Boots, Dixons, Coca-Cola and Mars.

Seymour Pierce stockbrokers said Mr Sutherland was viewed as a credible successor to Mr Cheshire at Kingfisher. Analyst Freddie George added: "He was, in our view, a major contributory factor in the recovery of the UK business over the last five years and more latterly was responsible for the company's key self-help initiatives."

He will leave Kingfisher in March, a company statement said.

Mr Sutherland called the Co-op a "great brand", adding: "The challenge is to build upon the success that has been achieved in recent years and the solid foundations that have been laid for its future growth."

He takes on the company at a time of falling profits, amid tough economic conditions and competition from convenience stores run by big supermarkets such as Tesco. Mr Marks is retiring after 45 years within the Co-operative movement.