Allan Leighton, the Chairman of the Co-op, has asked for back-up in an attempt to slash the CEO’s salary.
According to The Telegraph, Leighton wants the 2.5m people eligible to vote on proposals at the Co-op’s AGM next month to support a cut in boss Richard Pennycook’s base salary, taking it from £1.25m to £750,000.
Pennycook joined the mutual to try and revive the business, which was clouded when a £1.5bn black hole appeared in its banking arm, not long after the former chairman was exposed as an avid drug taker.
Pennycook took on the post following eight months as finance director when Euan Sutherland left two years ago, having called Co-op “ungovernable” in an unexpected post on Facebook.
Earlier this month Co-op recorded a steep 81% fall in annual profits to £23m, after which Pennycook said the Co-op had “been through a difficult period which was very intense.”
He took £3.6m home last year, including bonuses and perks. At the time Pennycook said “I hope members would regard my remuneration as having been appropriate for that time, but we’re now in calmer waters, we’re a different sort of organisation owned by its members.”
Pennycook has suggested a 60% cut in his pay.
“The Co-op is so much more than a commercial business, and whilst I’m greatly encouraged by our current trading performance, it’s essential that our wider Co-op difference also shines brightly once more,” Leighton said recently.
“To do this we need to build engagement among our millions of members so that our purpose can be felt throughout communities across the UK.”
To encourage members to vote, the Co-op will donate 50p to the British Red Cross for each vote cast.