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Herald View

FOR retail analysts it is a bit like the Beatles splitting.

Euan Sutherland was one of the so-called "fab five" who helped turn around the pan-European owner of Kingfisher from 2008.

The Edinburgh-born executive's appointment to run Co-operative was a surprise on two grounds.

He was seen as the leading contender to succeed Ian Cheshire and Kingfisher had recently promoted him to chief operating officer after he distinguished himself running its UK arm, including DIY arm B&Q.

Also, many observers, witnessing Co-operative's purchase of Lloyds's Verde portfolio and regulators' increased concerns around governance, had expected someone with financial services experience to head the company.

The reality is that the Co-operative has a number of challenges of which the integration of the banking business, while undoubtedly significant, is only one.

In food retailing it lags behind the big four supermarkets, although in Scotland it claims to hold fourth place ahead of J Sainsbury.

And its sales have been falling in a market that is relentlessly cut-throat in the face of squeezed consumer real incomes.

There also remain concerns about its complex and consensual governance structures that appear to severely restrict executive decision-making.

Mr Sutherland has had a varied career at both ends of the supply chain.

He ran AS Watson UK, owner of retailers Superdrug and Savers, before joining Kingfisher. His earlier career took him through Coca-Cola, DSG, owner of Dixons, and Mars.

He will need to draw on all of this experience to meet the trials of the next few years.

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