GKN’s chief executive Sir Kevin Smith is to retire at the end of the year, after safely steering the car parts-maker through an industry-wide crash.
Sir Kevin, aged 56, led the firm through a massive cost-cutting drive in the wake of the recession, cutting nearly 6,000 jobs to stem annual losses that hit £130m in 2008.
This ruthless approach put the firm back on an even keel, and GKN earlier this month reported a pre-tax profit of £345m.
Sir Kevin, born in Lancashire and a life-long fan of Burnley Football Club, is expected to keep his job as a UK business ambassador after he steps down from the engineering group.
He has already visited Singapore several times since taking up the government-appointed role last year, and hobnobbed with Prince Andrew at the British Business Awards ceremony in Shanghai in September.
He was knighted for services to industry in 2007. Before working for GKN, Sir Kevin spent more than 20 years at BAE Systems.