Bird has a deep knowledge of the Co-op business having spent 12 years at the company after joining as a store manager and rising to the director of brand role before leaving for former Budgens-owner Musgrave in 2008.
She has been working in consultancy for the last year and also has director level experience at companies including Moss Bros and Strada-owner Tragus. Bird will report directly to Steve Murrells, retail chief executive at The Co-op.
The Co-op had hired former Direct Line CMO Vlemmiks to the customer director position, but he never joined the company, despite having a 1 November start date, due to personal reasons, according to a Co-op spokesman.
The spokesman added that the company was in the process of seeking a permanent customer director.
Bird said: "It's a brilliant time [to be back] as the food business continues to gain momentum as the fastest growing non-discounter in the UK."
The food retailer has not had a permanent customer director, its most senior marketing position, for over a year since incumbent Andrew Mann was moved within the Co-op in April 2015 to become customer data director.
Mann was replaced by Steve Hammett as interim customer director.