Irish Life & Permanent Group Holdings, a provider of personal financial services, has appointed Alan Cook as new chairman of the group with immediate effect.

Cook will replace Gillian Bowler, who revealed her intentions to retire as chairman and director.

Cook has a long career in financial services and public service in the UK and elsewhere. He is a former managing director of the UK Post Office, a former chief operating officer of Prudential (UK and Europe) and a former chief executive of National Savings and Investments.

Currently, Cook is chairman of the UK Highways Agency and a non executive director of the UK Department of Transport, The Office of Fair Trading and the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Irish Life & Permanent Group chief executive Kevin Murphy said Alan brings enormous experience and skills to the board and the firms is looking forward to working with him.

"We’re entering a new and challenging phase for our group and I believe that Alan will play a critical role in helping us to navigate through this period to better times ahead," Murphy said.