Co-op needs a calm boss taking home a modest wage

 

Outlook The Co-op board's reaction to Euan Sutherland's resignation should have been simple: "OK. Bye then."

For all his admittedly hard work over the past year, Mr Sutherland has behaved with a petulance and flounce in the past 48 hours that surely made him unsuitable to run this organisation. First, he accepts a £3.6m pay package to run what remains a hugely loss-making organisation. Second, he throws a Facebook fit when outraged board members leak the figure to the media – blaming the leaker for his embarrassment rather than the pay itself. (A Co-op spokeswoman sourly refutes my description of that message as a "flounce", but it certainly looked like one to the outside world.) Third, he resigns while the electronic ink is still not dry on his rant at the "disaffected" board members seeking to undermine him.

Some insiders were telling the BBC yesterday that his resignation was a "back me or sack me" message to the board. It certainly galvanised them into rushing through the sensible boardroom restructuring proposals of Lord Myners.

Judging from the leaks to the Beeb, it looks like some elements in the organisation wanted to go grovelling to Mr Sutherland, begging him to reconsider. This would have been a mistake. He will never recover the backing of the membership for his monster pay packet, and will always be remembered as the man who blamed the whistleblower.

Now that the Co-op has a plan for a workable executive structure, it should not be too difficult to bring in a new chief – with an unflappable temperament and for less money – to lead the movement in its next phase. This should be a conservatively run organisation of level-headed folk with expertise in rescuing badly-run businesses and looking out for the long-term health and prosperity of its members and customers. If it isn't that, it hasn't got a chance.

Richard Pennycook, the stand-in, is well regarded and will be an effective interim (possibly permanent?) boss – but only if he keeps a lid on boardroom pay. The last thing members want to read in a year's time is that he got a giant raise beyond his current £1.8m for stepping into the breach.

As for Mr Sutherland, departing with a likely £1.5m, let him earn his crust behind the closed doors of the private equity world. The Co-op's vulture funds will know some good contacts there.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Ashdown Group: IT Manager / Development Manager - NW London - £58k + 15% bonus

£50000 - £667000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant / Telemarketer - OTE £20,000

£13000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...

Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manager - City, London

£40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...

Day In a Page

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own
Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England