Spar UK managing director Jerry Marwood will step down from the symbol group in summer next year after more than a decade at the business.

Marwood is credited with transforming Spar UK from an old-fashioned operation into a modern retailer. He started his retail career with now-defunct Gateway, and worked for Somerfield and Tesco before joining Spar in 1996. He was made managing director in May 2002 and during his tenure the organisation has grown into a £2.7bn business.

Marwood, whose departure was revealed by on Tuesday, will leave in early summer 2011. His plans are not known. Spar Food Distributors, the Spar UK holding company board, has appointed search company Hoggett Bowers to seek a replacement.

Marwood, who was made chair of the Association of Convenience Stores in 2007 and is a board member of the British Retail Consortium, said: “I still have a number of exciting business initiatives to implement, a replacement to find and a hand over to complete - all of which will take some time. Until then it’s business as usual.”

Peter Blakemore, who runs Spar member AF Blakemore, said on behalf of the Spar Food Distributors board: “Jerry has a desire to move on to seek new challenges and we have been working with him to map out a process that would ensure a smooth transition.

“Thanks to Jerry and his team we have a strong business model and are trading successfully in a competitive market and the focus of the board and Jerry is on ensuring that we continue in this way.”

Spar was set up in the UK in 1957 with five founding wholesale members. It now comprises six wholesale members servicing - and in some cases running - more than 2,600 convenience stores.