Mr Quarmby, 54, was deputy managing director and has been with the company for 11 years. He is leaving by mutual consent to pursue other interests. "There are a number of options I am considering", he said yesterday.
Prior to Sainsbury's boardroom shake-up, Mr Quarmby had been number three in Sainsbury's hierarchy behind chairman David Sainsbury and deputy chairman Tom Vyner. However, following the appointment of Dino Adriano as chief executive designate, Mr Quarmby's role became marginalised. He will not be replaced and his responsibilities for strategy and the provision of services to the group will be divided between Mr Sainsbury and finance director Rosemary Thorne.
Last year Mr Quarmby received a total of pounds 450,000 including bonus and pension payments. He was on a two-year rolling contract. However Sainsbury's said it was unlikely that Mr Quarmby would receive the maximum amount. "Some compensation will be payable reflecting the mutually agreed status of his departure," a spokesman said. Mr Quarmby also holds 63,330 shares which at yesterday's share price - down 6p at 379p - were worth pounds 240,000. He has options over a further 377,570 shares awarded at an average price of 329p.
Mr Quarmby joined Sainsbury in 1984 as distribution director. In 1988 he was appointed joint managing director responsible for non-trading activities.
His departure was unexpected. Andrew Fowler, food retail analyst at brokers UBS said: "It is a surprise but I don't think it will have any real impact. It is a bit of a storm in a teacup." Analysts now expect an external appointment to become chief executive of the US business. This includes the Shaws supermarket group as well as the group's stake in Giant, the Washington and Baltimore chain.