Co-op Bank CEO Andrew Bester announces his resignation

Andrew Bester

Manchester-based The Co-operative Bank has announced that chief executive Andrew Bester has informed the board of directors of his intention to step down.

He will also leave his role as a director of parent company The Co-operative Bank Finance plc.

Bob Dench, The Co-operative Bank’s chairman, has begun the process to find Andrew’s successor and Mr Bester has committed to remain until that process is complete.

The bank said both Mr Bester and the board are keen to ensure a smooth and orderly transition and the effective date of his departure will be confirmed in due course.

He joined the bank in July 2018, and has successfully led a complex transformation programme delivering key milestones, including separation of IT systems from The Co-op Group and a significant digitalisation programme, while also re-energising the brand and improving customer satisfaction levels.

This represents the delivery of key elements of the bank’s strategy, enabling a simpler future, and as the bank enters the next stage of its turnaround, Mr Bester said he feels this is the right moment for new leadership and a new personal challenge.

Bob Dench said: “I would like to thank Andrew for his dedicated leadership since taking up the position of chief executive officer.

“We appointed Andrew for his significant expertise in delivering major transformation programmes and he has ensured that we have successfully completed the ‘fixing the basics’ phase of our turnaround. The progress made provides the foundations for the bank to grow and to build a successful future.”

“Over recent months Andrew has worked tirelessly to navigate through the national crisis we all face and to support our customers through the pandemic. I thank him for the support he has provided during this unprecedented period and we wish him all the best for the future.”

Andrew Bester said: “It’s been a real privilege to lead an organisation with such a distinct brand, clear purpose and values and I’m so proud of the work of all colleagues to both deliver our strategy and to make a difference to the communities around us.

“I’m delighted that, despite the challenging environment we currently all face, we are supporting our customers through these difficult times and seeing positive growth in balances and new customer numbers.

“My ambition was to complete the major transformation phase of the turnaround and for our franchise to show resilience.

“At this point, I believe the bank is on the right path and it is time for a new CEO to continue the journey to be the digital ethical bank. In the meantime I remain focused on working with colleagues to provide the support our customers need.”

Mr Bester has overseen a marked turnround in the bank’s fortunes following a 2013 scandal following the ousting of the then chairman, the Rev Paul Flowers over allegations of drug taking and sexual indiscretions.

It led to Co-operative Group chairman, Len Wardle, bringing forward his retirement plans, saying at the time: “I led the board that appointed Paul Flowers to lead the bank board and under those circumstances I feel that it is right that I step down now, ahead of my planned retirement in May next year.”

Chancellor George Osborne ordered an independent inquiry into how Paul Flowers was deemed a suitable chairman of the Co-op Bank.