Stuart Mitchell, chief executive of value retailer Wilkinson, is to step down after almost six years in the role.

Wilkinson, the eighth biggest privately owned retailer in the UK, said he is leaving to “pursue other opportunities”. It is not known what he will move on to. Wilkinson has begun the search for a new chief executive.

The retailer’s 23,500 staff were told: “Stuart’s contribution to Wilkinsons in almost six years as chief executive has been extraordinarily valuable and he will be missed for his larger-than-life personality, good nature and energy.

“Much of real merit has been achieved under Stuart’s period of leadership and the foundations for the next era of Wilkinsons have been well and truly set. We wish him all the very best in whatever he chooses to do in the next instalment of his life.” 

It is understood Mitchell’s departure was a personal decision and is not reflective of any problems at the retailer.

Mitchell led the family-owned business through a time of transformation, expanding from 273 to 367 stores, introducing a catalogue, developing online and mobile retailing for the business and store rebranding across two thirds of the estate.

Wilkinson also opened an office in Hong Kong four years ago and Mitchell helped lead a “radical” rework of product across several categories.

Wilkinson has benefitted from the demise of value retailer Woolworths, picking up on consumer shopping trends towards lower-priced value-led products.