Nick Lancaster, the long-serving chief executive of HR Owen, has left the dealer group with immediate effect.
His departure, announced to the London Stock Exchange this morning, comes as quite a surprise.
AM interviewed Lancaster three weeks ago, when he seemed positive and energised about HR Owen's future and gave no indication of leaving.
However the group has been in a strategic review since the arrival of chairman Jon Walden.
Investors were told this morning Walden now takes an executive chairman role in the interim until a new CEO is appointed.
In a brief statement, Walden thanked Lancaster and said he had made "a significant contribution" to HR Owen's development.
Walden has prior automotive sector experience, including as former managing director of Lex Retail Group and Lex Vehicle Leasing, and as a former director of RAC.