Morrisons’ veteran group retail director Mark Gunter is to retire next year.

Gunter, who oversaw the integration of Safeway after Morrisons acquired the rival supermarket in 2004, will step down from the board this year at June’s AGM. He will then retire in June 2012.

Stores director Mark Harrison will succeed Gunter (pictured) as group retail director. He will take up is new role at the AGM, with Gunter continuing to advise the board until his retirement.

“Mark has made an enormous contribution to Morrisons over 25 years, said Morrisons chairman Sir Ian Gibson. “He has been one of the architects of our growth from a strong regional operator to a national business.”

Chief executive Dalton Philips added: “I am pleased that Morrisons has developed many excellent retailers and that Mark Harrison has the skills and experience to step up to the key role of group retail director.”

Gunter joined the retailer from Asda in 1986 as store general manager in Southport. He began his career at Iceland, where he was its first management trainee.

“I have had a fantastic career at Morrisons, working with some great people,” he said. “I am proud of what the company has achieved and have a tremendous sense of satisfaction with our success.

“The business is in good shape, with a strong management team in place, and I feel now is the right time to step back, consider fresh challenges and possibly take on some non-executive positions.”

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