Exclusive John Wood Newshops managing director Jerry Marwood will take over the top job in the UK symbol sector in May, when Spar UK managing director Morton Middleditch stands down. In a surprise move, Middleditch announced this week that he would relinquish his role three years short of his planned retirement. However the Spar board have asked him to stay on and he will take over the role of chairman currently occupied by AF Blakemore chief Peter Blakemore. Middleditch said: "I am delighted to secure the long-term succession at Spar and I am excited about the prospect of working with Jerry. "He is what the organisation needs to take it on to the next stage." Marwood is no stranger to Spar, having worked at head office for three years immediately before he took his current job at Newshops. He said: "I've got regrets about leaving Newshops and I've made a lot of friends here, but I couldn't turn down an opportunity like this." During his three years at Spar UK, Marwood was retail director and then deputy director. As retail director he led the team which worked on the successful bid for the Naafi contract, fighting off competition from Londis and Costcutter. The deal netted Spar more than 200 new stores across the UK and supply deals for overseas Naafi stores. Prior to joining Spar Marwood worked in a number of senior roles at Gateway/ Somerfield's head office. In his current role Marwood has implemented new branding for the 72-store group, and under his leadership it has become one of the fastest growing independent retailers in the UK. Marwood said: "Having worked with Spar before is a big advantage. It is a unique operation and takes a lot of understanding. My time at Newshops has also been very useful giving me hands-on experience to complement my experience of retail at head office level." {{NEWS }}