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Nationwide kicks off hunt for new boss amid clean sweep at the top

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Nationwide Building Society has started the hunt for a successor to chief executive Joe Garner as he looks to step down after more than five years at the helm.

The lending giant said the plan will “support an orderly transition to new leadership” in what will mark a clean sweep at the top as chairman David Roberts also heads for the exit.

Nationwide announced that Kevin Parry – Royal London Mutual Insurance Society chairman – has been appointed as deputy chairman and chairman elect and is set to replace Mr Roberts by March next year.

As chairman elect, Mr Parry will lead the process to appoint a successor to Mr Garner.

Joe Garner to step down
Chief executive Joe Garner has led the mutual since April 2016 (Nationwide/PA)

Mr Roberts said: “Joe has made an outstanding contribution as leader of Nationwide.

“He has led the society through the challenges of Brexit and Covid, and we have emerged in robust financial health able to focus on supporting our members as the country rebuilds from the effects of the pandemic.

“By putting in place an orderly transition, we will ensure a smooth handover to new leadership and continuity in the running of the society.”

Mr Garner said: “The foundations we’ve laid down in recent years will enable my successor to continue to grow the society and ensure we are ready to meet the future needs of our members.

“Until that point, I am absolutely focused on continuing to lead and deliver on our priorities.”

The mutual confirmed that Mr Garner will remain in post until a successor is appointed and is not leaving for another role.

It will lead an internal and external search.

Mr Garner took the top job in April 2016, joining from BT Group, where he had been chief executive of Openreach since early 2014.

He was also previously head of HSBC in the UK.

Mr Roberts, who has been chairman of Nationwide since 2015, asked the board earlier this year to start planning for his successor.

Mr Parry has been senior independent director at the group since January last year, having joined the board as a non-executive director in 2016.

The announcements come after the group saw annual pre-tax profits nearly double from £466 million to £823 million, helped by cost-cutting measures and higher income.

The group slashed administrative expenses by £94 million to £2.2 billion in the year to April 4.

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