Mr Murray, who will receive a £240,000 payment, cites “personal reasons” for his departure. Other media reports suggest he is leaving to pursue other business interests. He is due to leave at the end of this month.
Chairman Sir Peter Vardy, who will now resume his previous position of chief executive, says there was no “falling out” and nor were there “black holes” in the accounts.
The group is poised to expand from 70 to 100 dealerships and with sales forecast to rise from £1.4bn to£2bn over the next two years. Analysts expect the group to meet forecast underlying pre-tax profit targets of around £36m for the year to April 2003.
John Standen , a director, has been appointed non-executive chairman, with immediate effect.
Murray joined Reg Vardy in 1988, prior to flotation. He served for 10 years as finance director and has been chief executive since 1 May 2001.
Murray's departure is the second time in three and a half years that the dealer group has unexpectedly lost its chief executive. Graeme Potts also resigned from the top job in 1999.