The man who has been Co-operative Bank’s fifth boss in seven years has announced he is to step down, as soon as a successor is found, 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.
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.
Chief executive Andrew Bester said he will step down as soon as a successor is found
It comes after Co-Op bank axed 18 branches and slashed 350 jobs in August, blaming the economic uncertainty caused by the coronavirus.
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.’
Mr Bester took over from Liam Coleman (pictured ) in 2018
Niall Booker (right) stepped down from the job in 2016
‘My ambition was to complete the major transformation phase of the turnaround and for our franchise to show resilience’
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.
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.
Methodist minister Paul Flowers was caught on camera buying drugs
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.
The Crystal Methodist: Chairman was caught buying drugs in 2013
- Co-op bank chairman Paul Flowers, who had been a Methodist minister for over 40 years, was caught on camera buying drugs, just days after he was grilled by MPs over the bank’s performance
- Co-op Bank came close to collapse after running up more than £700million in losses
- Flowers was seen in his car discussing the cocaine and crystal meth he wants
- He boasted of using ketamine along with cannabis and club drug GHB
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.
Andrew Bester, who was the bank’s fifth boss in seven years when he was appointed, said the business is on the right track and new blood could help ‘continue the journey to be the digital ethical bank’.
His departure date has not been confirmed and Mr Bester has promised to stay until the board can find a replacement.
Co-op Bank chief executive Andrew Bester said: ‘It’s been a real privilege to lead an organisation with such a distinct brand, clear purpose and values and I’m so proud of the work of all colleagues to both deliver our strategy and to make a difference to the communities around us.
‘I’m delighted that, despite the challenging environment we currently all face, we are supporting our customers through these difficult times and seeing positive growth in balances and new customer numbers.
‘My ambition was to complete the major transformation phase of the turnaround and for our franchise to show resilience.
Barry Tootell (left ) took over Neville Richardson (right) in 2011
‘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.’