UK Markets open in 4 hrs 15 mins

Co-op Bank looking for sixth boss in a decade after chief executive quits

August Graham, PA City Reporter
·2-min read

The man who was once Co-operative Bank’s fifth boss in seven years has announced he is to step down, saying his job with the company is done, and fresh blood can take it forward.

Andrew Bester will leave when the board can find a successor for him, but he will stay in place until then, the company confirmed on Tuesday.

Mr Bester said: “At this point, I believe the bank is on the right path and it is time for a new CEO to continue the journey to be the digital ethical bank.

“In the meantime, I remain focused on working with colleagues to provide the support our customers need.”

He steps down after just two-and-a-half years in the role, though he said he has achieved much of what he set out to do in that time.

“My ambition was to complete the major transformation phase of the turnaround and for our franchise to show resilience,” he said.

The bank added that he had “successfully led a complex transformation”.

Mr Bester was seen as a pair of hands when he was appointed in 2018, with a mission to steady the ship after five years of turmoil.

Co-op reports £1.3bn loss
Niall Booker became Co-op Bank’s chief executive in 2013 (Newsteam/Co-operative Bank/PA)

He took over from Liam Coleman, who had replaced Niall Booker in 2016, who in turn took the job in 2013 from Barry Tootell, appointed in 2011 to succeed Neville Richardson.

The five bosses oversaw some of the toughest times in the bank’s nearly 150-year history, punctuated by missing cash and a drugs scandal.

In 2013 Co-op had been forced to pull out of a deal to to buy hundreds of Lloyds branches from its larger rival.

The move almost destroyed Co-op Bank after staff found a £1.5 billion hole in its balance sheet, and the Co-operative Group was forced to slash its stake in the business as part of a rescue deal.

A few years later, in 2017, the Co-op sold its last shares in its former banking division.

It was not the only scandal to hit the bank during a tumultuous year.

In November 2013, the Mail on Sunday published a video of former Co-op Bank chairman Paul Flowers apparently buying cocaine.

Just three days before the recording, the Methodist preacher, who had stepped down as the bank’s chairman months earlier, gave evidence to MPs looking into the collapse of the Lloyds deal.