Dobbies chief executive James Barnes has left the Tesco-owned retailer after 23 years with the business along with finance director Sharon Brown.

Both left the business last week and commercial director Katharine Poulter has taken the helm at the retailer on an interim basis.

Tesco managing director for developing businesses Jill Easterbrook remains chairman of the garden centre retailer which is based in Midlothian, Scotland.

Barnes joined the business in 1989 as development director and has led the business through a management buyout in 1994, its float in 1997 and acquisition by Tesco in 2007.

It is understood Barnes and Brown left the business without jobs to go to and a process to replace them is underway.

A Dobbies spokeswoman said: “James leaves the business in good shape. Thanks to his long experience on the board we have a good platform to bring the brand to more customers.”

A source close to Dobbies added: “It was Tesco’s decision and it is their business to do so but the departures were amicable. James and Sharon are a close team and have created significant shareholder value in their time with the business.”

In an internal memo seen by Retail Week, Barnes and Brown said: “Over the last 23 and 15 years respectively, we have been privileged to have led Dobbies through such a strong and sustained period of growth. We are both very proud to have helped grow the business and deliver value to its owners, and we are hugely grateful of the magnificent support we have received from everyone we have worked with during that time.”

Dobbies and Tesco have two joint stores in Inverness and King’s Lynn and it is understood the two parties are looking to build further partnerships.