Mike Bracken has been named Co-operative Group Chief Digital Officer, and will join the organisation when he leaves his current role as Executive Director of the Government Digital Service and the UK government's Chief Data Officer in October, a departure which was announced on August 3. [See also: Chief Digital Officer salary and job description - What's the CDO role and how much do Chief Digital Officers get paid?]

The Co-op said that Bracken will be responsible for "driving the group's digital content and strategy". He will report to Chief Executive Richard Pennycook and will sit on the Group Executive Committee. His appointment is subject to SRA approval.

Bracken's departure from GDS was a surprise to many, with the UK's de facto Chief Digital Officer having expressed last year he had no desire to leave and having only taken on the Chief Data Officer role in March - although there has been speculation of an imminent slash in GDS funding and of a lack of senior Civil Service backing for Government as a Platform.

Bracken said: "I'm delighted to take on this exciting role with the Co-operative. The Group's ambition to deliver an improved digital experience for members will be fundamental to achieving the rebuild programme it has embarked upon."

CEO Pennycook added: "Mike brings with him outstanding and ground-breaking industry experience and will make a major contribution to our long-term recovery. His appointment is another clear demonstration that we are attracting the best talent in Britain as we rebuild our business."

The Co-operative said that  one area of particular focus will be to develop the Group's digital engagement with its members, establishing what membership can mean in a digital age to help support the Group purpose of "Championing a better way to do business for you and your communities".

The Co-operative Group has lost a number of its senior technology leadership in the last 18 months. Group CIO Andy Haywood left the organisation in June 2014 after the Chief Information Officer role was removed from the management executive three months previously. Co-op Bank CIO Pete Coleman left in April 2014, while Co-op IT director Ian Dyson left in March 2014 to join retailer Debenhams.

Former finance director Pennycook had been the Co-op's interim Chief Executive in March, and was given a newly-created role of COO with responsibility for IT when Haywood left the executive board and as it sought a new CEO. He was made permanent CEO in September 2014, while current CIO Simon Bourne is not listed as a member of the Executive Committee.