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Former Co-op CEO revealed as frontrunner to run Matalan

Chloe Burney
23 February 2023

Jo Whitfield, who stepped down as the Co-op's supermarket chief last year, is reportedly battling with interim CEO Nigel Oddy for the top job at general merchandise retailer Matalan.

Whitfield, who left Co-op last year after missing out on the Group CEO job, is in detailed talks with Matalan's new owners about becoming its next Chief Executive Officer, according to Sky News.

The new owners, who took over from John Hargreaves, are seeking a new CEO to lead its turnaround after pumping £100 million into the recovering business. The group of investors, which includes Invesco, Man GLG, and Tresidor, agreed to sanction a £257 million debt-for-equity swap.

Matalan Founder John Hargreaves had previously expressed "concern" about the final deal. In particular, he is concerned that it "fails to address the needs of the business to adequately deleverage its balance sheet and secure an appropriate long-term owner for the company".

If Whitfield is successful in her potential appointment, it would mark somewhat of a homecoming for her, as she spent six years earlier in her career working at Matalan. During the early 2000s, she worked her way up from Financial Controller to Head of Finance.

This follows the news that Matalan's interim Chairman exited upon the completion of its sale. The interim Chairman Tim Isaacs departed the business, following the acquisition of the retailer on 26 January 2024

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