Colin Graves, founder and former executive chairman of Costcutter, has resigned his position and left the group, saying: “I’m not cut out to be just a figurehead.”

Graves had remained as Costcutter chairman after the acquisition of the symbol group by Bibby Line Group in November 2011, but he is understood to have clashed with Bibby managing director Sir Michael Bibby about his role at the organisation, refusing to accept a non-executive position. He resigned in mid-January and was working through six months notice before cutting his ties with the group after a showdown meeting this week.

Speaking to C-Store, Graves said: “I have been very heavily involved in the group in the last couple of months and had every intention of staying at Costcutter and seeing it through until we had secured a new distribution arrangement. But Mr Bibby wanted to take me out of the decision-making process by making me non-executive chairman, and that was like putting a straightjacket on me.

“I was hoping we’d be able to resolve it but we were getting nowhere and it wasn’t doing anyone any good to let it just rumble on, so I took the decision to leave. It isn’t how I would have chosen it to end, but I don’t want to be there just as a figurehead.”

Graves founded Costcutter in 1986, and expanded the chain from an initial seven stores in Yorkshire to more than 1,700 today. He was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Convenience Retail Awards in 2011 to mark the group’s 25th anniversary.

He added: “I’ll miss the contact with retailers, staff and suppliers, and I’m very grateful to everyone who has helped me develop Costcutter into the great success it is today. I’m not retiring, and I’m sure there will be something for me to get involved with just around the corner.”

Costcutter retailer Paul Cheema described the news of Graves’ exit as “shocking”.

“When Colin was there, members always had a sense of security as we knew that he understood retail and would do what was best for retailers,” he told C-Store. “We’re not sure what will happen now.”

Costcutter chose to use Graves’ departure as an opportunity to announce a restructuring of the group’s management, including the appointment of Richard Collins as retail operations director, Bob Marshall as finance director and Steve Potter as strategy and operations director. David Thompson continues in his role of UK sales and development director, Jamie Davison remains as sales and development director (South) with Duncan Jelfs appointed to director of sales & development (North) and Craig Farrington promoted to director of sales development.

In an official statement, Sir Michael Bibby commented: “On behalf of employees, retailers and suppliers I would like to thank Colin for the dedication he has shown over the last 25 years. The commitment and enthusiasm to retailers demonstrated by Colin will continue to be the driving force behind the company’s plans for the future.”

Costcutter chief executive Nick Ivel added: “I would like to personally thank Colin for the support he has given me over the last 15 years at Costcutter and I wish him the very best for the future.”