Andrew Higginson, the chairman of online, catalogue and stores retailer N Brown Group, has stepped down from his role.

Higginson is making the move after nearly five years as chairman in order to pursue opportunities in private equity. He will remain in his position during the search for a replacement and through a handover period.

"It has been a privilege to chair the company through a period of transformation to a digital business," he says. "I am stepping down in order to free up capacity to pursue opportunities within private equity in my portfolio, but I look forward to following the progress of the company in the coming years and wish the business every success."

N Brown says senior independent director Ron McMillan is leading the process to identify and appoint a new chairman.

Last month, the retailer reported a slump in earnings in its last fiscal year as a result of charges related to the mis-selling of payment protection insurance. Pre-tax profit dropped 23% to GBP55.6m (US$71.7m), while revenue rose 2.5% year-on-year to GBP887.7m.

N Brown FY earnings slump on charges