Gavin Slark is to step down as chief executive of builders merchanting and DIY group Grafton Group later this year after 11 years in the job.

In a statement, Grafton said that Mr Slark will continue in his roles as CEO and Board Director until stepping down from both roles on 31 December 2022 in line with his service agreement.

A process to appoint a successor will commence immediately with the support of an executive search firm, the company said.

"It has been a privilege to have been CEO of Grafton over the past 11 years. I have had the opportunity to work with exceptional people and I am very proud of what we have achieved on behalf of all our stakeholders," Mr Slark said.

"I have made the decision to leave with a heavy heart but am confident that this is the right time for a new CEO to lead the business as Grafton embarks on its next phase of growth and development," he said.

"I remain very committed to the leadership of the business over the next six months and to working towards a smooth transition to my successor," he added.

Grafton Group owns the Woodies DIY chain and builders merchants Chadwicks here.

Michael Roney, Chair of Grafton, said that Mr Slark has made an outstanding contribution to Grafton and provided exceptional leadership over the past 11 years.

"Under his stewardship the group has further extended its geographic footprint and has been transformed into a portfolio of higher quality and higher returning businesses with excellent market positions and strong growth prospects," Mr Roney said.

"Supported by exceptional management teams, Gavin has overseen the development of a best-in-class business of scale in the Netherlands and entry into the Nordic region with the acquisition of a new growth platform in Finland," the Grafton chairman said.

"He also progressed initiatives to grow the market positions of our established businesses in the UK and Ireland both organically and by acquisition, in what is now a more digitally enabled environment with an increased focus on sustainability opportunities," he said.

"More recently he successfully led Grafton through the pandemic and the divestment of the traditional merchanting business in Great Britain to leave the Group in an exceptionally strong position, both strategically and financially," he added.

The group will announce its scheduled update on trading for the half year to June on July 12.

Grafton shares were lower in London trade after the news.