Morrisons group finance director Richard Pennycook is to leave the business next year.

Pennycook has told Morrisons that he wants to broaden his portfolio and will step down from the board before exiting the company next June.

Until then he will keep his responsibilities for finance, IT, online and strategy. Morrisons said it would begin the process for finding a replacement shortly.

“This was a difficult decision but by the time I leave next year I will have been with Morrisons for over eight years and I feel that it’s the right time to seek new challenges,” Pennycook said.

“It was very important to me to give Morrisons as much notice as possible to ensure a smooth transition.  I wish the company and my colleagues all the best for the future.”

Morrisons chief executive Dalton Philips said Pennycook was an exceptional CFO, who had made an enormous contribution to the supermarket.

“We have worked very closely together for more than two years and he is held in the highest regard by the company and all its stakeholders,” he added.