Martin Kelleher, the head of Musgrave's retail chains SuperValu and Centra, is leaving the business.
Mr Kelleher, a 24-year veteran of the Cork-headquartered grocery group, departs six months after his former divisional head colleague, Noel Keeley, was promoted to the role of group chief executive officer.
The group confirmed on Tuesday that Mr Kelleher "has decided to step down as managing director of Musgrave Retail Partners Ireland and leave Musgrave". It said temporary responsibility is being handed over to the retail division's marketing chief, Ray Kelly.
It is believed that Mr Kelleher decided suddenly to leave Musgrave at the end of last week, taking many of its franchisees by surprise. He will leave inAugust. The wholesaling giant’s independent retailers were formally notified of the move in recent days. Mr Kelleher is also understood to have contacted several retailers to update them on his departure.
While it confirmed the move and wished him well, Musgrave did not state the reasons for Mr Kelleher’s exit. As recently as February, Mr Kelleher was publicly laying out his ambitious expansion plans for the group’s retail division, which comprises a network of more than 470 Centra outlets, and more than 220 SuperValu supermarkets.
Mr Kelleher took over the running of the division in 2010.
Mr Keeley, who was previously the head of Musgrave's wholesale division, took over in January at the helm of the sprawling group, which had turnover last year of €3.9 billion. He replaced long-serving Musgrave chief executive Chris Martin.
Mr Keeley said the departing Mr Kelleher “has contributed significantly to the success of the business” and had overseen “significant growth and development” of its brands.
“All of us at Musgrave would like to thank Martin for his passion and commitment to Musgrave throughout the 24 years he has been with us. We wish him the very best as he moves on to his next chapter,” said the chief executive.
Musgrave said a process to select Mr Kelleher’s permanent successor has already commenced. It insisted Mr Kelly would work with Mr Kelleher to ensure a “smooth transition”.
The Irish Times attempted to contact Mr Kelleher at his Cork home, but he had not responded prior to publication.