Clinton Cards has hired the current managing director of Starbucks UK and Ireland to be its new chief executive.

Darcy Willson-Rymer will join in October, while Don Lewin, founder, chairman and chief executive, will become non-executive chairman from August 1, ahead of becoming life president in March 2012.

The change means Clinton Cards will be run by a non-family member for the first time, as revealed by Retail Week earlier this month.

Willson-Rymer joined Starbucks in 2007, and prior to that spent three years at Unilever Ventures and 19 years with Yum! Brands.

He will work closely with Clinton Lewin, group managing director, who will focus on the group’s property portfolio and on strategic supplier relationships.

The greetings card retailer will also appoint two non-executive directors to replace John Coleman and Robert Gunlack, who will be retiring from the board soon.

Chairman Don Lewin said: “Having founded Clinton Cards over 40 years ago, the time is now right for me to assume a non-executive role. The changes announced today will bring important new experience to our senior management team and strengthen the board. 

“I welcome Darcy to the board of Clinton Cards.  His strong retail, brand, management and customer relationship experience and skills will be of great benefit as we develop the group through the changing retail environment.”

Willson-Rymer said: “I am delighted to be joining Clinton Cards. While it has a great heritage as the UK’s leading cards and gifts retailer, I am very excited to have the opportunity to help take the business forward in the new retail environment to the benefit of customers and all stakeholders.”