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Wales Online
Wales Online
David Flett

Co-op appoints first female CEO in its 159-year history

The Co-op Group have named Shirine Khoury-Haq as the first-ever female CEO in its 159-year history and handed her a salary just short of £1million. Ms Khoury-Haq was already acting head of the supermarket-running mutual, as well as the group's other business interests in funeral homes, insurance and legal services.

She assumed the role on an interim basis back in March after Steve Murrells left the company following 10 years of service as CEO. Previously, Ms Khoury-Haq had joined Co-op as their finance manager and head of life services in 2019.

Prior to those appointments, she had held positions at McDonald's and the Post Office and remains a non-executive director of housebuilding firm Persimmon. According to The Grocer, she was paid £836,000 in 2021 - a figure that includes her £650,000 base salary, which is understood to have risen by £100,000 after she was given the CEO job on a permanent basis.

The Co-op's previous CEO Steve Murrells left the company in March after 10 years of service (PA Archive/PA Images)

Her basic wage is believed to be in line with Murrells, whose total pay of £1.5million in 2021 was boosted by bonuses. The fact that Ms Khoury-Haq's business background is financial rather than in retail will "put one or two retail-based noses out of joint", says Shore Capital analyst Clive Black.

But the new CEO said: "I am proud and honoured to lead this wonderful and unique organisation. The Co-op is the original business with purpose and I am looking forward to delivering even more on this promise, working to co-operate for a fairer world.

"There is a lot to do but we also have so much to build upon. Our food and life services businesses are leaders in their markets. We have a differentiated vision and amazing Co-op colleagues, with links into communities and other co-operatives. Together, we will continue to succeed and deliver for the benefit of our members, our customers and their communities."

Expressing his support for the historic appointment, Co-op chair Allan Leighton added: "I’m delighted that Shirine has accepted the invitation to lead and develop our Co-op into the future, tackling the challenges presented by the highly uncertain and volatile external environment. Shirine has proven leadership qualities and a deep level of transformational experience, and the board has been impressed by her desire to prioritise on activity that will deliver a strong financial Co-op for our members, whilst maintaining a focus on our vision and wider social commitments."

Whether Ms Khoury-Haq will be as popular with employees remains to be seen as, in July, it was reported that she was overseeing a series of job cuts that could affect 400 head office staff, as part of wider £47million cost-cutting measures for 2023. Last year, figures demonstrated that 8% of FTSE 100 companies had a female CEO, which dropped to 4% of FTSE 250 businesses.

Female representation, as a whole, is also higher among FTSE 100 companies, with a greater share of executive directors, non-executive directors and overall boardroom representation among them.

For more stories from where you live, visit InYourArea.

Find recommendations for eating out, attractions and events near you here on our sister website 2Chill

Find recommendations for dog owners and more doggy stories on our sister site Teamdogs

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