Ursula Lidbetter appointed Co-operative Group chairman

Lincolnshire Co-operative CEO Ursula Lidbetter has been appointed as The Co-operative Group Chairman after Len Wardle resigned following a drugs scandal involving former banking division boss Paul Flowers.

Paul Flowers, who chaired the Co-operative Bank since 2010, was exposed on video apparently buying and using illegal drugs.

Len Wardle was Co-op Group chairman since 2007 and was due to leave next May, but resigned this week after having led the board that appointed Flowers.

Ursula Lidbetter, formerly Mr Flowers’ deputy, has now been appointed to chair the Co-op Group through the current governance review, which will include consideration of how the board is constituted and chaired.

The Co-op Group role is non-executive and she will retain the position as Lincolnshire Co-op CEO.

The Co-op Bank division is currently facing a rescue plan which will see majority control turned over to investors due to a £1.5 billion gap in its finances following the takeover of the Britannia Building Society in 2009.

Ursula Lidbetter said: “I have served as a director of The Co-operative Group since 2009 and have been chairman of the Food Board since 2010.

“Taking over the role as Chairman of The Co-operative Group will mean I can offer our sister co-op leadership and guidance during this challenging time and help their board instigate the important changes that need to take place.

“These are very difficult times for The Co-operative Group and the wider movement, but I believe that we can and will come through this period stronger than ever by facing up to our challenges.

“I look forward to working with the new management team, who have already started on the important work of turning around our businesses.

“In addition, I look forward to working with my fellow Board members and the wider membership as we change the way we are organised and governed in the interests of all our 7m members.”

“It is a non-executive role and means that I will still be carrying on as Chief Executive of Lincolnshire Co-op – it’s business as usual in that respect.

“I also serve on a range of other organisations in a similar capacity; local examples include the Greater Lincolnshire LEP and the Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce.”