Sainsbury’s group development director Darren Shapland is to step down from his position.

The surprise move will take effect at the company’s AGM on July 13. Shapland said he plans to pursue several personal interests. He will however remain a non-executive chairman at Sainsbury’s Bank.

Luke Jensen, currently managing director non-food, will take over the role of group development director, assuming his responsibilities except for convenience, the bank and property.

The move is a surprise as Shapland, previously finance director, was given additional responsibilities including looking at international opportunities to widen his experience. Many saw him as a successor to chief executive Justin King.

Sainsbury’s said a separate announcement will be made regarding non-food.

King will assume direct responsibility for the convenience business while John Rogers, chief financial officer, will add property to his remit.

Chairman David Tyler said: “On behalf of the board and all Sainsbury’s colleagues I would like to thank Darren very much for the extremely important role he played in helping to reposition Sainsbury’s from recovery to growth. I have valued his input on a day-to-day basis and I am delighted that we will continue to benefit from his advice and experience through his role as chairman of Sainsbury’s Bank.”

King said: “I have enjoyed working with Darren both personally and professionally and thank him for the considerable contribution he has made to the recovery programme, Making Sainsbury’s Great Again, over six successful years. I am confident that with the appointment of Luke, together with the strong leadership team we have in place, our growth agenda will continue as planned.”

Shapland said: “It has been a real pleasure to work within a successful team at Sainsbury’s, helping my colleagues implement the turnaround of the company and the move from recovery to growth. The business is in great shape and this feels an appropriate time to move on so that I can pursue a number of my personal interests.  I am pleased to continue to be involved with the company in my ongoing role at Sainsbury’s Bank.”