The government's chief data officer and executive director of digital, Mike Bracken, has been appointed chief digital officer (CDO) at the Co-op.

Bracken will be responsible for driving the Co-op's digital content and strategy, as well as developing digital engagement with its members.

The grocer said his role will establish "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'."

Government digital chief to join the Co-op

Bracken raised several eyebrows in the technology world this week when he announced his departure from government. Over the last four years he led the government's efforts in digital as the executive director for the Government Digital Service (GDS) as well as head of digital at the Cabinet Office. And more recently he was appointed the government’s first chief data officer. His role involved the development of, as well as championing the use of open data in government.

But Bracken has decided to swap civil service for retail, with a move onto the Co-op's executive board to work under CEO Richard Pennycook.

Pennycook said: "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."

On his blog, Bracken said the Co-op movement is close to his heart.

"The values and ethics of Co-operatives are more relevant in society today than they have ever been and are highly congruent with the open Internet," he said.

"There are many parallels between government and the Co-operative: The opportunity to work at scale, in a £10bn organisation, to chance to set a digital strategy and improve member experience; to work with inspiring colleagues all over the country; and to build strong businesses serving diverse audiences. It’s another fantastic challenge."

Bracken will begin his role at the Co-op from October.