Matalan is on the hunt for a new director of merchandising after Jonathon Fitzgerald prepares to leave the retailer at the end of the summer.

It is understood Fitzgerald, who has been with the value fashion retailer for 18 months, is leaving to join Australian department store group Target.

He would be working under new managing director Stuart Machin, a Brit and former executive at Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco. Machin played a key part in revitalising Australian grocer Coles as its stores development and operations director before taking on the Target role.

Fitzgerald is to join a growing exodus of British retailers to Australia. For instance, the boss of Coles is former Halfords chief executive Ian McLeod.

Australia is increasingly becoming a key country to expand into as retailers such as River Island and Ted Baker have targeted it for localised online sites in the past few months.

Matalan aims to to appoint a replacement for Fitzgerald soon.

A spokesman for Matalan said: “We wish Jonathon and his family all the best.”