McLeod is joining Coles, a Tesco-style Australian supermarket chain. He steps down from the Halfords board on February 29th.
Halfords will now select a successor from a range of internal and external candidates and a search consultancy has been appointed to assist with this process. In the interim period Paul McClenaghan, Trading Director, and Nick Wharton, Finance Director, will report to the Chairman as Acting Joint Managing Directors.
Richard Pym, Chairman, said: "Ian McLeod has been a fantastic Chief Executive in the three years that he has held the position and whilst we are disappointed he has resigned, we understand his decision to accept the opportunity that has been offered.
"Halfords has a clear strategy and a strong management team and that continues in place. The trading update issued today shows Ian leaves Halfords in a good position. We wish him well for the future."
Ian McLeod, Chief Executive, said: "It has been a privilege to be part of the Halfords transition from private ownership to an independently listed company once again, and then continue to build our financial performance and market position year after year.
"The decision to leave has therefore not been an easy one as I have thoroughly enjoyed working with everyone to deliver the improvements that have been achieved together. I am confident that Halfords' success will continue given the company's strength in its people and in each of its core categories."
In interim financials released today, Halfords increased sales for the 43 week period ending 25 January by 7 percent over the equivalent period in 2007 with like-for-like sales increasing by 4.1 percent. In the 17 week period since the half year, sales have grown by 5.0 percent and like-for-like sales by 2.0 percent.
A statement from Halfords said this was "against a challenging comparison following an exceptional Autumn 2006 when Halfords benefited from certain one-off events, most notably the change in child seat legislation. Adjusting for the impact of child seats, underlying like-for-like sales growth in this 17 week period was 3.2 percent."
Halfords revealed that its pre-Christmas launch of our 'Reserve on line, collect in store' service, resulted in almost 100,000 orders being taken across all categories.