Morrisons has appointed international headhunting firm Spencer Stuart to lead the search for a replacement for outgoing CFO Richard Pennycook, The Grocer has learned.

Pennycook announced his decision to leave the business in the summer, agreeing to remain with Morrisons until next June in order to give the retailer sufficient time to find a replacement.

Spencer Stuart, which has operations in 30 countries across the globe, has sourced senior executives for some of the world’s biggest companies, including Facebook and Hewlett Packard.

Pennycook, who this week joined online retailer The Hut Group as a non-executive director, will have been with Morrisons for more than eight years when he steps down next year. He played a pivotal role in turning round Morrisons after its difficult Safeway integration and has been tipped as future leader of a FTSE 100 company.

When he made his announcement to leave the retailer, he said he wanted to build a “portfolio career”.