Co-op food chief executive steps back to help sons with exams

Jo Whitfield, chief executive of Co-op food, is taking time away to help her sons with their GCSEs and A-Level exams.

09 February 2022

The head of the Co-op food division is taking a four-month break to support her sons during their exams.

Jo Whitfield, chief executive of Co-op food, said she will step away from the business from May, to help her two sons complete their GCSEs and A-Levels.

The move will see group chief executive Steve Murrells take day-to-day control of the Co-op’s convenience food business.

Co-op boss Steve Murrells
Co-op chief executive Steve Murrells will take over day-to-day running of Co-op’s food division during the break (Co-op/PA)

She said: “I always knew that this year would be a big year with my boys undertaking key exams.

“We decided as a family, that in order to prepare for the inevitable pressure and emotional turmoil that would involve, that when the time came, I would look to spend more time with them to ease the challenge.

“I can take this time away reassured by the knowledge we have a strong food leadership team who will keep moving our Co-op forward, working with support and guidance from Steve Murrells, our Co-op CEO.”

Ms Whitfield, who took home £1.4 million in 2020 according to the company’s annual report, will take four-month unpaid leave.

The opportunity to apply for an unpaid leave of absence is available to all Co-op staff, according to the company, and others are said to have taken it previously.

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