Marks & Spencer veteran Andrew Skinner is leaving the retailer after almost three decades.

Skinner, Marks & Spencer’s general merchandise merchandising director, has decided to seek new opportunities outside the business.

Sacha Berendji, who has been M&S chief executive Marc Bolland’s executive assistant,will succeed Skinner and take up the role at the end of March.

An M&S spokeswoman said: “Andrew has been with us for 28 years and feels that the time is right to move on. He leaves with our warm thanks for the contribution he has made to the business over the years and our very best wishes for the future.”

Skinner joined Marks & Spencer aged 18 as a management trainee. He rose up the ranks and in January 2007 became Director of GM Planning and Supply and was appointed to the the retailer’s executive Committee, and in 2009 became director of Per Una.

He is the latest high-level departure from M&S this year, following general merchandise brand director Alison Jones and director of new channels Susan Aubrey-Cound.