The Post Office’s retail chief executive Debbie Smith is to depart the organisation with further structure changes to be announced later this month, according to internal documents.

An internal statement on the departure included thanks from group chief executive Nick Read for her work during the two years she spent heading up the retail business unit.

The move strips out a layer of management between partnered retailers and Nick Read and is expected to form part of the group CEO’s efforts to reset the relationship with subpostmasters in the wake of the Horizon scandal.

The statement says Cathy Mayor, current finance director of retail, will head up the retail business unit until new direct report structures are announced.

In the statement Debbie Smith said: “It’s been a pleasure to meet so many postmasters and visit your branches, and whether I’ve been in a large city centre branch or a small rural store I’ve always been struck by the same thing: the absolute passion and dedication that you and your teams show to customers day in, day out. 

“I have always had a passion for developing and mentoring others and the time is now right for me to look at how I can use the experience I have gained over 30 years in retail leadership roles to mentor other executives, whilst taking on additional non-executive director roles.

“I’m confident that under the leadership of group chief executive Nick Read, Post Office has a bright future focused on better supporting you and your team.” 

The move follows the removal earlier this week of Post Office Insurance chairman and audit, risk and compliance committee member Tim Franklin as a director, according to Companies House. BetterRetailing understands that his tenure on the board was set to expire in September but was extended until 31 December pending the Government’s approval of a replacement, set to be announced in March. Franklin remains chairman of Post Office Insurance.