THE Co-operative Group produced a surprise by naming a senior boss at Hampshirebased B&Q-owner Kingfisher as its next chief executive.

Euan Sutherland, chief operating officer at home improvements group Kingfisher – which owns Screwfix as well as DIY giant B&Q – had been seen as a possible successor to the FTSE 100 company’s chief executive Ian Cheshire.

Mr Sutherland, 43, will arrive at the Co-op in May, succeeding Peter Marks, who recently created the UK’s fifthlargest food retailer with the capture of supermarket Somerfield. Mr Sutherland is already a non-executive director for the group.

Co-op chairman Len Wardle said he had considerable experience of the “strategic leadership needed in complex customer- facing businesses”.

Mr Sutherland has been at Kingfisher since 2008, starting as chief executive of B&Q and Kingfisher UK before becoming group chief operating officer in February 2012 and joining the board in October.

He was previously chief executive of AS Watson UK, which owns retailer Superdrug, and has also worked at Boots, Dixons, Coca- Cola and Mars.

Mr Marks is retiring after 45 years within the Co-operative movement.