Former Marks & Spencer retail director Barry Stevenson is to become chief executive of pawnbroker Albemarle & Bond.

Stevenson, who was most recently chief executive of garden centre group Wyevale, will start on September 14 and takes charge of the business at a time when recessionary conditions have helped trading.

Stevenson said: “This is an exciting time for Albemarle & Bond and I greatly look forward to contributing in its continued success.

“The business has outstanding potential to benefit from positive market conditions and deliver further growth.”

He succeeds Greville Nicholls, who will become chairman. Nicholls said: “Barry has a proven history of creating shareholder value with a strong record of implementation, delivering against demanding targets and leading successful teams in a highly competitive and customer-focused environment.”

Nicholls succeeds Charles Nicholson as chairman with immediate effect. Nicholson is standing down following ill health.

AIM-listed Albemarle & Bond has 115 stores and intends to open up to 15 more this year.