Michael Metcalf, the chief operating officer and finance director at Burberry, the luxury goods group, is to leave in order to try and secure a chief executive role elsewhere.
The surprise departure, after 5 years in the job, means that Mr Metcalf, 51, will miss out on some £900,000 from the share options bonanza due to him over the next few years.
However, he has already been richly rewarded for helping oversee last year's partial flotation. Mr Metcalf earned £962,000 for the year to March 2003, including a £330,000 bonus for the initial public offering.
Burberry said the move was entirely "amicable" and Mr Metcalf will not go until March next year. He will receive no pay-off.
Before joining Burberry in 1998, he was chief executive of Thorn, the rentals business. Mr Metcalf will now begin the search for a chief executive position.
Company sources said it was a sign of how "straight-forward" he was that he announced his wish to go, before securing another job.
Mr Metcalf said: "After careful reflection, I have come to the decision that now is a good time to look for new opportunities outside the group."
Mr Metcalf will not receive 291,304 "free" shares in the company, due to him in tranches from 2005 onwards.
At yesterday's closing share price of 290p, down 7p, this would be worth £844,782. Of the 291,304 other share options granted to him, which must be bought at the IPO price of 230p, Mr Metcalf will not receive 97,101 of these shares - losing out on a paper profit of £58,260 at yesterday's share price.
Rose Marie Bravo, chief executive of Burberry, said, "We will be sorry to see Mike go, but we respect both his decision and the thoughtfulness with which he is orchestrating his departure."
Under Ms Bravo and Mr Metcalf, Burberry has been transformed from a niche brand wholly owned by GUS to a listed global luxury goods business worth about £1.5bn.
Analysts said that they were an effective double act.
It has not yet been decided whether Mr Metcalf's successor will have both the positions he has held. Burberry is yet to appoint headhunters.Reuse content