Chairman Sir Peter Vardy expressed “surprise” at the news, and is assuming the chief executive's role, supported by non-executive chairman John Standen.
Murray joined in 1988, when the Sunderland-based dealer group was a relative minnow compared with the influential company that exists today. Back then – before Vardy had been floated – it was one of scores of regional dealers with ambitious growth plans.
Prior to his appointment as chief executive in May 2001, Murray had spent 10 years as Vardy's finance director. He is the second chief executive to leave in recent years, following the departure of Graeme Potts in 1999 to join the RAC. Sources believe both men were frustrated by Vardy's influence in the company's day-to-day operations. There's nothing in Reg Vardy's financial reports for 2002 to suggest anything is wrong with the performance of the company – trading for the full year is expected to be in line with expectations. Vardy is on course to be among the beneficiaries of the new block exemption regulations, as some manufacturers seek to reapportion sales territories.
The company is also known to be searching for dealer acquisitions.