Eoin McGettigan has left his role as Co-operative Group food retail business chief executive after only three months.

Guy McCracken, a former joint managing director of Marks & Spencer (M&S), will take over on May 23 after McGettigan announced he had accepted a senior position outside the UK with “a major European retailer”.

McGettigan, who had previously been Musgrave UK chief executive, said: “During my time heading food retail, I have been struck by the enormous potential of the Co-op brand and the commitment of the group’s management team to overcoming the business’s short-term difficulties.”

The group’s annual operating profits fell to £74.5m last year from £122.3m in 2003, following problems integrating more than 775 acquired stores into its business.