He has been with the Co-op since 2015 when he was brought in to help the then chief executive Richard Pennycook, fellow chartered accountant and his immediate predecessor as CFO, to restructure and rebuild the business following its near collapse in the wake of the financial crisis.
As one of only two executive directors on the 13-strong board, Ellis has played a key role in helping to restore stability to the business, according to Co-op chair Allan Leighton.
“His belief in the need for us to build strong Co-op businesses in order to create value to share with our members and their communities, and the financial discipline he has re-established across the organisation has helped set us up for future success,” he said.
“Ian will be greatly missed by colleagues and members and we all wish him well for his retirement when the time comes.”
Ellis has held a number of senior roles in consumer retail over his career. He joined the Co-op from homeware chain Wilko where he was CFO but he has also worked as head of finance at Wm Morrisons Supermarkets and held senior finance posts at Northern Foods.
He has agreed to stay on until the agm in May next year to give the group time to find a suitable replacement. Then, he says, he intends to take some time out before possibly looking at some non-executive directorships and charitable roles in the future.
Pennycook stepped down in February 2017, handing over the reins to Stephen Murrells, the Co-op's current CEO.
At the time, he said that having slimmed down the business and put it on an even keel, it now needed someone with vision to take it through its renewal phase.