Co-op claims management reshuffle will lead to ‘more cohesive’ marketing

Gill Barr may be leaving the management board but Co-op claims it is strengthening its marketing focus.

The Co-op

The changes, announced this morning (19 March), mean group marketing director Gill Barr will now take direction from the Co-op’s chief external affairs officer Nick Folland on marketing strategy. He will be responsible for ensuring that the group communicates in a more joined up way whether it is speaking to Co-op members, staff or customers.

Barr maintains her role as marketing director and will be responsible for ensuring that senior marketers in the company’s business areas – which include insurance, food, pharmacy and funeral care – communicate The Co-op’s brand positioning.

A spokesperson says the changes have the potential to strengthen the Co-op’s focus on marketing and are recognition that it must communicate its vision, purpose and attributes in a more joined up way.

“This provides us with an opportunity to talk to key stakeholder audiences. We can be crisper in terms of communication and managing messages to stakeholders… and more joined up in how we convey the brand to a whole range of people,” says the spokesperson.

The Co-op is in the midst of working out what that brand positioning might be following a difficult 12 months including the discovery of a £1.5bn black hole in its banking division, controversy around the Co-op bank chairman’s private life and the resignation of group CEO Euan Sutherland last week.

It is currently asking consumers to offer their thoughts on its future direction through the “Have your say” online survey. That has so far attracted more than 100,000 responses, above the group’s target of between 30,000 and 40,000.

It has also moved Paula Kerrigan, the group’s chief strategy officer, to become a member of the board where she will continue to develop the group’s purpose and strategy. An announcement on that is expected at the firm’s annual general meeting on 17 May.

Once members have voted on the strategy, she will be responsible for seeing that strategy implemented across the business, including in marketing.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here