Poundland owner Steinhoff’s chief executive Markus Jooste has stepped down with immediate effect as the group launches a probe into “accounting irregularities”.

The South African retail group has postponed its full-year results, which were scheduled to be released today, and has appointed PwC to carry out an “independent investigation”.

Jooste’s abrupt exit comes after nearly 30 years with the business.

Steinhoff has drafted in its chairman and largest shareholder, Christo Weise, as executive chairman on an interim basis.

Pieter Erasmus, the former chief executive of Steinhoff subsidiary Pepkor Group, will work alongside Weise in an advisory capacity to oversee the group’s retail portfolio while the investigation takes place. 

Steinhoff owns 40 retail brands in over 30 countries including Harveys and Bensons for Beds in the UK, Conforama in France and Mattress Firm in the US.

The acquisitive retail group has made headlines in recent years for its unsuccessful bids for Argos and French electricals chain Darty.

Steinhoff’s South African shares plummeted to a seven-year low following the announcement, wiping 60% off the company’s value.