Morrisons is looking internally and externally for a new chief executive following the shock announcement of the departure of Marc Bolland.

The grocer said Bolland will remain in his post until the end of its financial year.

Chairman Sir Ian Gibson said Morrisons has “a strong and capable senior management team who will continue to deliver the business strategy, which has enabled Morrisons to achieve market leading growth this year while the board identifies a suitable successor”.

The departure of Bolland is likely to rattle founder Sir Ken Morrison.

When Bolland was appointed to the role just three years ago, Sir Ken said: “I was impressed he had spent 20 years with Heineken. I do not want someone who stays for three years and then disappears.”

One retail analyst said there are two internal possibilities – group finance director Richard Pennycook and group retail director Mark Gunter – but “neither have the skills of Bolland”. Bernstein analyst Luca Solca said a new chief might consider the alternative growth avenues of non-food and the internet, now that the core business was on track.