David Hutchinson, production director for Morrisons, is to take early retirement on medical grounds.

Morrisons said that Hutchinson, who is responsible for manufacturing, warehousing and distribution, should be able to fulfil his full 12-month contract and would remain fully committed to the business until 30 June 2007.

He joined in 1986 and spent seven years helping to build up the produce business. He was appointed to the board of management in charge of all manufacturing and packhouse activities and in 2002 joined the main board of the company, adding warehouse and distribution functions to his responsibilities. Hutchinson's retirement will be a blow to chairman Sir Ken Morrison, who has been working to strengthen the management team.

Last month, after a lengthy and much-publicised search, the supermarket group finally confirmed that Marc Bolland, the chief operating officer of Heineken, would succeed outgoing CEO Bob Stott in September.