LONDON – Andy Hornby, group chief executive of Alliance Boots, the pharmacy, health and beauty group, has unexpectedly resigned from his post after less than two years.


Hornby said in a statement Friday that he needed to take a break.


“After an intense last five years as ceo of two major companies, I have decided to take a few months break and to stand down from my post,” stated Hornby, adding that he had enjoyed his nearly two years at Alliance Boots.


Hornby was named group chief executive in June 2009. Previously, he had been chief executive of beleaguered bank HBOS before it was taken over by Lloyds TSB Group in 2009.


A source close to Hornby said his time at HBOS had been particularly intense, and that while he had a “great two years” at Alliance Boots, it was time to leave. The source said the split was amicable.


Stefano Pessina, executive chairman of Alliance Boots, called Hornby a “committed member of our executive team with a wealth of retail and marketing experience.” He said Hornby leaves with “our very best wishes for the future.”


The Alliance Boots statement said the group would undertake an internal and external search for a successor. It added the company was set to report a year of strong trading profit growth in May, when it announces its annual results for the year ended March 31.