The Co-operative Group
The Co-operative Group appoints Euan Sutherland CEO. Photo: The Co-operative Group

Despite market expectations for a candidate with a banking and financial services background, the Co-operative Group has appointed Euan Sutherland from home improvement retailer Kingfisher as group chief executive of the conglomerate with effect from May 2013.

The Co-operative Group has previously agreed to buy 632 branches from Lloyds Banking in a bid to expand its banking operations. The conglomerate currently operates in food, travel, banking, pharmacy, funeral care and farming sectors.

Sutherland is currently chief operating officer of Kingfisher, and he will join the Co-op following the retirement of Peter Marks. He has also been serving the Co-op's food business since 2010 as a non-executive director.

"He brings with him considerable experience of the strategic leadership needed in complex customer-facing businesses, across a variety of retail sectors, and we very much look forward to welcoming him and working together," said Len Wardle, chair of the Co-operative Group.

Kingfisher said in a statement that Sutherland will remain in his current role at Kingfisher until March to allow the handover of his responsibilities.

Sutherland joined Kingfisher in 2008 as CEO of its UK & Ireland operations. He was appointed group chief operating officer in February and joined the main Kingfisher board in October.

The appointment comes as the Co-op is facing risks with its attempts to integrate the newly acquired banking assets with its existing operations.

"I am very pleased to be given the opportunity to lead the organisation at this important time. The challenge is to build upon the success that has been achieved in recent years and the solid foundations that have been laid for its future growth," Sutherland said.

"He was, in our view, a major contributory factor in the recovery of the U.K. business over the last five years and more latterly was responsible for the company's key self-help initiatives," Seymour Pierce analyst Freddie George told Bloomberg.