Ousted chief executive of discounter Matalan, Angus Monro, has told friends that he was "astonished" at his shock dismissal on Friday. He was told to resign by fellow directors, who had met secretly before the board meeting.

Monro, who owns £10m worth of shares and has options worth more than £19m, said that he would seek substantial compensation.

He told the Sunday Times: "I was somewhat surprised at the timing of my departure. The timing was not my decision."

Monro added that he expected to return to the retail sector: "I am going out on a huge high point. I am proud of my achievements."

Monro is widely regarded as the chief driver of the firm, which floated in 1998 with a value of £195m and is now worth more than £2bn. He had planned to expand Matalan into France and Germany.

John Hargreaves, Matalan's founder and executive chairman, is to step into Monro's shoes until the position is filled.