Sainsbury’s has announced its chief executive Mike Coupe will retire from the supermarket group in May.
Mr Coupe has led Sainsbury’s for almost six years, during which time he oversaw a failed attempt to merge with rival supermarket Asda.
The head of Sainsbury’s retail and operations, Simon Roberts, will take over from Mr Coupe.
“This has been a very difficult decision for me personally,” Mr Coupe said.
“There is never a good time to move on, but as we and the industry continue to evolve, I believe now is the right time for me to hand over to my successor.”
Mr Coupe’s departure is a surprise after he said last May he would be “sticking to the company” when asked whether he had been asked to step down after the failed merger.
“I’m planning to stay,” he said at the time.
His exit was announced a day after Sainsbury’s said it was cutting “hundreds” of management roles to reduce costs.
It said the cuts were largely due to its integration of Argos, which it bought in 2016, into the business.
Mr Roberts, who is due to take over on 1 June, has been involved in integrating Sainsbury’s and Argos. He was also the former president of retailer Boot UK.