New Look chief executive Anders Kristiansen has left the struggling fashion retailer after nearly five years in the role.

Sources told Retail Week Kristiansen departed New Look in the last 24 hours. New Look declined to confirm his immediate exit.

Earlier reports from Sky News had indicated he would leave in the coming weeks.

It comes just over two years after the chief executive’s turnaround of the retailer paved the way for its £2bn sale to South African investor Brait.

It is expected that Kristiansen will be replaced on an interim basis by New Look UK and Ireland managing director Danny Barrasso while the board hunts for a permanent successor.

During his nearly-five year tenure at New Look Kristiansen expanded the retailer’s store network in China and grew its digital business into the UK’s third-largest online fashion brand.

He also presided over a recent shake-up of its executive team, hiring Paula Dumont Lopez from Zara-owner Inditex.

However, news of his departure comes during a difficult period for the mid-market fashion firm.

Last month, New Look reported a 7.5% fall in UK like-for-like sales in the quarter to June 24, with underlying operating profit declining sharply to just over £12m.

The retailer is also believed to have been targetted by US distressed debt investors, seeking to acquire part of New Look’s £1.2bn debt.

Chairman John Gnodde said: ”On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Anders for the fantastic contribution he has made during his time here at New Look. Under his leadership, the company has made significant progress and we wish him well for the future.

“As New Look embarks on its next phase of development, we have mutually agreed that it is the appropriate time for a change to the leadership of the company.

”Danny and the wider executive team have the full support of all the shareholders to provide continued operational progress and leadership as we search for a permanent chief executive.”

Kristiansen said: “I have really enjoyed my time at New Look and it has been a privilege to work with so many amazing, hard-working and talented people.

”I am proud of what we have achieved as a company and have every faith in New Look’s future prospects and progression.”