McGettigan took up his post in February, following a drop in profits by the retailer's food arm in the year to January to£74.5 million, from£122.3 in 2003. McGettigan said he was going to a post at a major European retailer.
The Co-operative Group has already appointed Guy McCrakken (pictured) to head its 1,700 strong food store portfolio. A former M&S employee, McCrakken was also chairman of Duchy Originals, the organic food company set up by the Prince of Wales. He will join on May 23.
Co-op Group chief executive Martin Beaumont said McCrakken's experience was 'key to addressing the issues currently facing our food retail business.'
McGettigan said he was sad not to be contributing to the retailer's turnaround efforts. He said: 'It is understandable that the Co-operative Group feels the need to announce my successor now, but, unfortunately, due to internal processes at my new employment, I am not yet able to confirm the name of the company that approached me or the nature of my new role. It goes without saying, however, that for me personally, and of course my family, it represents an opportunity I just couldn't turn down.'