Scott Waddington is to step down as chief executive of Welsh brewer and pub operator, SA Brain, after 17 years in the role.

The move is part of a succession planning process being overseen by Brains’ chairman, John Rhys. Waddington said it felt like the “natural time” to move on to new challenges.

The company expects the search to take around six months, during which time Waddington will remain in post. He will continue to oversee the company’s move to its new brewery and head office, in the Pacific Business Park, Cardiff.

Waddington said particular highlights of his tenure included the company investing in the quality of its pub estate, growing its food business and acquiring and rolling out the now 87-strong Coffee#1 chain, as well as sponsoring the Welsh Rugby Union and Football Association of Wales.

Rhys said: “Scott has been a distinguished leader of the Company over the past 17 years. I have enjoyed working with him during that time and look forward to doing so over the coming months whilst we search for the right person to lead the business into the next stage of our development.”

Waddington added: “It has been a privilege to lead such an iconic Welsh Company and I would like to thank all my colleagues over the years for making my time here so rewarding and enjoyable.

“With a number of our strategic priorities now reaching their conclusion, this felt like the natural time for me to move on to new challenges and to hand over to a new leader to take this great business on to its next stage of development.

“I look forward to working with John to ensure a smooth handover to my successor later this year.”

Waddington told MCA he was keen to explore non-executive roles following his departure.