Woolworths’ Michael Luscombe has announced he will be retiring from his position as managing director on 30 September 2011.

Taking over will be Grant O’Brien who is chief operating officer of Australian food and petrol.

Effective of 4 April, O’Brien becomes deputy chief executive officer and CEO designate. He will join the board as executive director and will work with Luscombe until his formal commencement date on 1 October 2011.

Woolworths chairman James Strong said O’Brien’s appointment as successor or Luscombe will be extremely well regarded at all levels of the company.

“It is especially pleasing to appoint our 12th CEO from within the ranks of the company,” he said.

“The board looks forward to working closely with Grant to continue developing solid, sustainable results over the long term of our customers, communities, suppliers, investors and employees.”

During his tenure as CEO, Luscombe achieved a tripling in group EBIT, driven annual sales through $50 billion and overseen a 68 per cent increase in shareholder returns.