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Co-op CEO to leave next October

Martin Beaumont has announced that he will be retiring as chief executive of the UK's Co-operative Group in October 2007, after five years in the role.

The 57 year-old leader of the UK’s largest co-operative retailer said that after a sustained period of restructuring and modernisation the GBP8 billion turnover group was now in good shape for the future.

Whilst we have had to take some difficult decisions to get to where we are today, it has been a privilege and immensely rewarding to have led the group through a profound period of change, Mr Beaumont said. I look forward to building on our progress over the next 12 months before handing over the baton.

Under Mr Beaumont’s leadership the group has realigned its portfolio, focusing on customer facing businesses where it believes its co-operative values give it a competitive advantage. As a result, the group has exited a number of traditional sectors like milk processing and manufacturing, department stores, engineering and car sales.

Last month the group, which spans food stores, funerals, pharmacies and financial services, reported a 32% rise in first half profits to GBP157.4 million. It also announced the return of its profit sharing scheme for members, as well as a rebranding program for its estate of over 3,000 retail outlets and launched new businesses in consumer legal services and green energy.

The Co-operative Group board will discuss the process of appointing Mr Beaumont’s successor when it meets in November.