Co-op Food boss to take four-month career break

Jo Whitfield, chief executive of Co-op Food

Co-op Food boss Jo Whitfield is taking a four-month career break later this year 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, which encompasses 2,600 stores and the Nisa retail group it took over in 2018.

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.”

Murrells added: “We will miss Jo and wish her and her family well over the coming months.”

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

Whitfield joined the Co-op as retail finance director in 2016 before moving to her current role in 2017.

Before joining the Co-op she spent eight years at Asda in a number of different leadership positions, including VP of George operations and VP of Asda general merchandise, money and mobile.