A team of former Government Digital Service directors – including former director of design Ben Terrett – are joining the Co-operative with the aim of making the organisation “a major digital player”.
Terrett, who left his GDS post in August, is moving to the Co-operative as group design director. Terrett follows Mike Bracken, former executive director of digital in Cabinet Office, who has joined the Co-operative as chief digital officer.
GDS’s former technical architect Mat Wall, strategy director Russell Davies and deputy director Tom Loosemore are also joining the team at the Co-operative.
“We’re used to working as a team”
Bracken says: “Together, Ben, Tom, Russell, Mat and I founded the Government Digital Service. With our colleagues there, and across government, we delivered gov.uk, saved billions for the taxpayer, won the Design of the Year Award and – most importantly – delivered substantially improved services for millions of people.
“We’re used to working as a team so we hope it won’t take us long to get up and going.”
Bracken says the team is joining the Co-operative with an aim of making the organisation “a world-leading digital player”.
Recreate the Co-op for a digital era
He says: “Our ambition is bold: to re-create the Co-operative for a digital era, and demonstrate a different way of doing business for an increasingly connected community.”
The Co-operative Group was set up in 1844 and runs a collection of retail business including food, insurance and legal services.
It is owned by its members, who number approximately 8 million across the UK.
The business suffered a debt crisis in 2013 – posting a debt level of £1.4 billion by the end of that year. In 2014 it sold off a series of businesses, including its pharmacy and farm operations, and in April 2015 said it had reduced its debt levels by 40% and made a small profit.
Bracken says the aim of the new digital team is to be “open and agile and have a relentless focus on members”.
He points to potential changes such as communicating online with members, rather than sending letters out twice a year, which he says could save more than £500,000 each year.
Bracken says the team will continue to hire, adding: “[These] won’t be the last brilliant digital people we bring in.”
Following Bracken’s departure, the Government Digital Service is now being run by former chief operating officer Stephen Foreshew-Cain. Louise Downe has taken over as director of design.
Since its launch in beta form in 2012, the Government Digital Service’s gov.uk portal has replaced hundreds of public sector sites, won a Black Pencil at the D&AD Awards and been named Design of the Year by the Design Museum.