Stonegate, the managed operator, has announced that chief executive Toby Smith is to leave the company as soon as a suitable successor can be appointed.

He joined Stonegate in June 2011 following the acquisition of the Town and City Pub Company which he had led since 2008. The group said he has been instrumental in growing Stonegate into the UK’s largest and most profitable privately owned managed pub company.

Ian Payne, chairman of Stonegate, said: “On behalf of the board I would like to thank Toby for the massive contribution that he has made towards the success of Stonegate, and on a personal basis thank him for his friendship over the eight years that we have worked together.”

Manjit Dale, Founding Partner at TDR Capital, said: “On behalf of the whole team at TDR we would like to thank Toby for his dedication, commitment and drive in building Stonegate into the fantastic business that it is today.”

Smith said: “I am hugely proud of what we have achieved at Stonegate with a fantastic and committed team and I am looking forward to pursuing new challenges over the coming months. I would like to thank everyone at both Stonegate and TDR and wish them all well for the future.”