Trinity Mirror chief executive Sly Bailey is to leave the company with immediate effect, six months earlier than planned.
Ms Bailey had already announced that she planned to step down at the end of this year after nearly a decade in charge of the national and regional publishing group.
However the change has now been brought forward with group finance director Vijay Vaghela taking on her duties while a permanent successor is found.
The surprise move was announced in a company statement this morning.
It read: “Trinity Mirror plc (“Company/Group”) announces that Sly Bailey is to step down as Chief Executive of the Group and resign as a director of the Company with immediate effect.
“The Company is progressing its search for her successor as Chief Executive using the services of Egon Zehnder International.
“Until a permanent appointment is made the duties of the Chief Executive will be assumed by the Group Finance Director, Vijay Vaghela who will work closely with the newly appointed Chairman David Grigson.”
Mr Grigson said “The Company and the Board are grateful to Sly for her immense contribution and leadership over nearly 10 years.
“Despite the deep economic downturn, the actions she has taken with her team have ensured the Company has consistently delivered robust profits. We wish her well for the future.”
Ms Bailey said “Newspapers are a business like no other and it’s been an absolute privilege to have led Trinity Mirror in this fascinating and all-consuming role.
“Everything I’ve achieved during my time here has been underpinned and supported by the hard work, commitment and enthusiasm of our tremendous staff.”
Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, commented: “Finally, Sly Bailey is doing the decent thing and leaving the company she has led into monumental decline.
“There is now a window of opportunity for Trinity Mirror to think long and hard about the way forward for its titles and for the business.
“The strategy of relentless cuts under Bailey’s management has repeatedly failed to turn around the company’s fortunes and only served to line the pockets of its chief executive – now is the time for investment in quality content and journalism.”