Members vote to shape the future of the Co-op at AGM

May 21, 2016

Co-op Group held its 2016 Annual General Meeting (AGM) today with over 700 members attending the event at Manchester Central.

Key highlights from the meeting were:

Election of Directors to the Board

  • It was announced that Margaret Casely-Hayford and Hazel Blears were elected as Member Nominated Directors to represent members’ interests on the Group Board.
  • In addition, Lord Victor Adebowale, Simon Burke, Peter Plumb and Stevie Spring were elected as Independent Non-Executive Directors.
  • Richard Pennycook and Ian Ellis were elected as Executive Directors.

Political donations

  • Members mandated the Group to make political donations on an annual basis until 31 December 2017. 

After the AGM, the Co-op also announced the launch of a new range of benefits for members and their communities that will be launched this autumn and a return to its iconic clover-leaf logo, which will be rolled-out across its businesses in the next 3 to 5 years.


The full results of the Co-op AGM voting are as follows:



1.         To receive the Annual Report and Accounts for the 52 weeks ended 2 January 2016


For – 97.48%    

Against – 2.52%

2.         To approve the Directors’ Remuneration Report for the 52 weeks 2 January 2016


For –91.47%     

Against – 8.53%

3.          To approve the Executive Remuneration Policy


For – 90.08%    

Against – 9.92%

4.          To re-elect Richard Pennycook as an Executive Director


For – 95.19%    

Against – 4.81%

5.          To elect Ian Ellis as an-Executive Director


For – 95.31%    

Against – 4.69%

6.         To elect Lord Victor Adebowale as an Independent Non-Executive Director


For – 91.82%    

Against – 8.18%

7.          To elect Peter Plumb as an Independent Non-Executive Director


For – 94.44%    

Against – 5.56%

8.          To elect Simon Burke as an Independent Non-Executive Director


For – 95.12%    

Against – 4.88%

9.         To elect Stevie Spring as an Independent Non-Executive Director


For – 93.42%    

Against – 6.58%

10.   To appoint Ernst & Young LLP as the Society’s auditors


For – 96.11%    

Against – 3.89%

11.   To approve amendments to the Society’s Rules


For – 96.48%    

Against – 3.52%

12.   Joint motion from Board and Council - Political Donations


For – 78.32%    

Against – 21.68%

13.   Motion from Council – Member Voice


For – 98.49%    

Against – 1.51%

14.   Motion from Council – Ethics and Sustainability


For – 97.73%    

Against – 2.27%

15.   Motion from Council – Co-operation between Co-operatives


For – 98.89%    

Against – 1.11%

16.   Motion from Council – Colleagues and National Living Wage


For – 98.68%    

Against – 1.32%

17.   Independent Society Members - Fairtrade


For – 94.20%    

Against – 5.80%


Results for the election of Member Nominated Directors




Margaret Casely-Hayford






Hazel Blears




David Rodgers

Not Elected




The Co-operative Group
Jon Church
Tel: 07545 210812
Chris Sonne
Tel: 07770 544 721

Tulchan Communications
Susanna Voyle
Tel: 07980 894557
Jonathan Sibun
Tel: 07779 999683

Notes to Editors:

About The Co-operative Group:

The Co-operative Group, one of the world’s largest consumer co-operatives, with interests across food, funerals, insurance, electrical and legal services, has a clear purpose of championing a better way of doing business for you and your communities. Owned by millions of UK consumers, The Co-operative Group operates a total of 3,750 outlets, with more than 70,000 colleagues and an annual turnover of approximately £10 billion.

For the Group’s 2016 Annual General Meeting, over 2 million members were eligible to vote having met the minimum level of qualifying purchases with Group businesses during the Group’s 2015 financial year. For further information see the Group’s Rules and Purchases Regulations.

More information on the AGM can be found at:

Newly elected directors’ biographies

Executive Directors

Richard Pennycook

Joined the Group in 2013 after nearly eight years as Group Finance Director at WM Morrison Supermarkets Plc (“Morrisons”). Previous roles include Group Finance Director at RAC and JD Wetherspoon. Appointed Interim Group Chief Executive in March 2014 and was appointed Group Chief Executive permanently in September 2014.  In March 2016 he was awarded Retail Leader of the Year, by fellow UK chief executives for the outstanding leadership he has shown in the rescue and rebuild of the Co-op.
Ian Ellis

Joined the Group in September 2015 from Wilko where he has been Chief Financial Officer since April 2008. Previously Head of Finance at Wm Morrisons Supermarkets PLC and prior to that, he worked for Northern Foods PLC in a variety of senior finance roles.

Independent Non-Executive Directors

Lord Victor Adebowale

Victor is Chief Executive of the health and social care organisation, Turning Point; he has a passionate interest in public service reform and reversing the inverse care law and in pursuit of this, he lectures on the subjects of poverty, social exclusion, equality and human rights, leadership and change management.

Victor is a Visiting Professor and Chancellor at the University of Lincoln, holds numerous honorary doctorates as well as an MA in Advanced Organisational Consultation from Tavistock Institute. He is also a Fellow of the City & Guilds of London Institute, an associate member of the Health Service Management Centre at the University of Birmingham and of Cambridge University Judge Business School, on the Board of Governors for London School of Economics, Non-Executive Director of NHS England, President of the International Association of Philosophy and Psychiatry, and is the founder and Chair of Collaborate at London South Bank University.

In 2000, Victor was awarded the CBE for services to the New Deal, the unemployed, and homeless young people and in 2001, he was appointed a cross bench member of the House of Lords.

Simon Burke

Simon was appointed to the Group Board on 14 November 2014 as an Independent Non-Executive Director for the transitional period having previously been an Independent Non-Executive Director of the Group’s principal subsidiary, Co-operative Food Holdings Ltd.   During this time he served on the Transitional Risk and Audit Committee and the Transitional Search Committee.

Simon is a Chartered Accountant and is currently a Non-Executive Director for the BBC, a Director of The Light Cinemas (Holdings) Limited and Blue Diamond Limited.  Simon was previously Chair of both BathStore and Hobbycraft, and CEO for Virgin Retail, Virgin Cinemas and Virgin Entertainment Group. 

Peter Plumb

Peter has been the CEO of, the leading price comparison service in the UK, since 2009. Peter studied civil engineering at Birmingham University and gained an MBA from IMD in Switzerland. Peter was UK Managing Director of dunnhumby, the engine room of Tesco’s Clubcard, and has also held senior leadership roles in top consumer businesses including Disney, Dyson and PepsiCo.

Stevie Spring

Stevie is a respected Board director with executive and non-executive experience across the private, public and not for profit sectors. After a successful career in brand marketing and consumer advertising, she became CEO of Clear Channel, the world’s largest out of home company, then of Future PLC, where she led its digital transformation to become the largest seller of digital magazines on the Apple Newsstand.  She has Chaired the hugely popular BBC Children in Need appeals since 2008.

Member Nominated Directors

Margaret Casely-Hayford

Margret was Director of Legal Services for the John Lewis Partnership for nine years. She is has been on the Board of NHS England since 2012, and was one of the directors who promoted and pioneered ‘NHS Citizen’, the new listening structure for the NHS that enables proper consultation and collaboration.
Margret is currently Chair of the Charity ActionAid UK which operates in 45 countries.

Hazel Blears

Hazel was a Labour Member of Parliament from 1997 – 2015, representing Salford and Eccles. She has held a number of senior positions in government including Public Health Minister, Home Office Minister and Communities Secretary.  She also served on the National Intelligence and Security Committee.

Hazel has been a Co-op member for over 20 years, she has shopped and banked with the Co-op throughout that time and co-operative values have shaped her personal and working life. Hazel’s other roles include being a Member of the Advisory Board of Big Society Capital and Chairing the Institute for Dementia at Salford University.