Arnaud Mulliez has resigned as chief executive of Auchan France citing personal reasons, the retailer has confirmed.

He will leave the business at the end of the year after leading it since 2003.

He will be replaced by Henry Mathias, vice-president of the retailer’s French operations, on a temporary basis.

Auchan has faced a challenging year, posting a 17% drop in overall profits in its first-half results in August.

Arnaud Mulliez is the son of Auchan founder Gérard Mulliez, who set up the business in 1961.

Since then it has become an international retailer with a presence in 16 countries, with 128 hypermarkets and 262 supermarkets in France alone.