Jane Norman veteran Saj Shah has taken early retirement from the women’s young fashion chain.

Saj Shah, who had been at Jane Norman since 1976 and who had held the role of chief executive for the past 16 years, is believed to have stepped down to spend more time with his family.

Ian Findlay, formerly Jane Norman finance director and deputy chief executive, has become managing director.

Shah, who has lived and breathed the Jane Norman business since he joined 35 years ago, kicked off a succession strategy in 2008, ahead of his retirement which, at the time, he said was likely to come no later than 2012.

In March 2009, after only six months in the role of trading director, former Ghost chief executive Sandy Goldsborough, who was widely tipped as an eventual successor to Shah, left the business after a poor season’s trading was attributed to weak product. Anita Vassallo was appointed to the role shortly afterwards.

Within months of Goldsborough’s departure, Jane Norman drafted in PricewaterhouseCoopers to undergo a review of the business in the wake of the collapse of Icelandic investor Baugur and the failure of the Icelandic banking system. Baugur and Kaupthing together held 80% of the business.

In January 2010, a syndicate of 15 lenders took over the 80% and restructured Jane Norman’s debts of almost £136m. Management retained a 20% stake. It is unclear whether Shah will retain any stake in the business, which was bought by Baugur and Kaupthing in 2005 for £117m.