Morrisons group finance director Richard Pennycook is to exit the grocer next year to “seek new challenges”.

Pennycook, who has been key in formulating Morrisons’ fresh strategy and expansion, will leave at the end of June 2013 “to concentrate on building a portfolio career”.

Pennycook, who joined the grocer in October 2005, was overlooked for the top job at Morrisons when Dalton Philips was picked as chief executive in 2010.

Morrisons said Pennycook, will carry out an “appropriate transition of his responsibilities prior to leaving the Company”. 

Pennycook is credited with putting Morrisons back on track after facing difficulty integrating the Safeway business.

In the meantime, he will retain his responsibilities for Finance, IT, Online and Strategy.

Morrisons said: “The Nomination Committee will shortly commence a process for the selection of an appropriate candidate as successor.”

Philips said:  “Richard is an exceptional CFO who has made an enormous contribution to Morrisons.  

“We have worked very closely together for more than two years and he is held in the highest regard by the company and all its stakeholders.”   

Pennycook said: “This was a difficult decision but by the time I leave next year I will have been with Morrisons for over 8 years and I feel that it’s the right time to seek new challenges. 

“It was very important to me to give Morrisons as much notice as possible to ensure a smooth transition.  I wish the Company and my colleagues all the best for the future.”

Morrisons chairman Sir Ian Gibson said: “Richard has done an outstanding job for Morrisons over the last 7 years. 

“He was the architect of the Company’s Optimisation Plans and has played an increasing strategic role in the last few years as Morrisons has completed its transformation into a nationwide retailer. 

“Richard will remain with Morrisons for another year which will ensure a seamless transition with his eventual successor.  When he leaves in 2013 it will be with our gratitude and best wishes for the next phase of his career.”