Former Co-op wine head ‘flattered’ by support

paul bastard, co-operative group, fairtrade, facebook News Wine News
  • Monday 20 August 2012

The departed wine manager of UK supermarket retailer The Co-operative Group says he is ‘flattered’ by a Facebook campaign designed to keep him in his job.

Paul Bastard, of the Co-op

Paul Bastard took voluntary redundancy and left his post as wine development manager on 17 August, after 19 years within the Co-op food business.

News of his exit has caused a social media stir, with an anonymous Facebook profile set up under the name ‘Votefor PB’ and a cover photo declaring: ‘Keep Paul at Co-op’.

The profile had 112 ‘friends’ by midday on the day of Bastard’s departure.

The campaign comes amid talk of a division between the Co-op wine team and senior management following the departures of wine strategy manager Vicky Wood and wine buyer Maria Elener earlier this year.

Bastard told there had been a ‘restructure’, but insisted there are ‘no hard feelings’, adding: ‘I've not been dismissed.’

Although not on Facebook, he said he’s ‘very flattered’ by the social media campaign.

‘When there’s a change in a business you think: is this change for me? And after hard reflection, I’ve said no. Of course I’m sorry to leave, but I wouldn’t have a word said against them,’ he said.

Bastard and his colleagues were instrumental in pioneering Fairtrade wine at the Co-op. Asked if he planned to stay in wine, Bastard said he was undecided.

The Co-op said it is ‘actively searching internally and externally for a replacement for Paul’.

A company spokesperson declined to comment on the restructure, but said the retailer is ‘as committed as ever to growing and developing our award-winning wine range’.

Mike Osmond, commercial director at the group’s food business, thanked Bastard for ‘a much-valued contribution’.

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