Alliance UniChem chief executive Ian Meakins has reportedly dropped out of the running to replace Bob Scott as Morrisons CEO.

Meakins, along with Heineken COO Mark Bolland, have widely been hailed front-runners for the post, trailed by former Tesco executive and current president of Wal-Mart Germany David Wild.

Meakins is understood to be frustrated at the protracted succession process. The failure of Sir Ken Morrison to decide on a final candidate ahead of Thursday’s (25 May) AGM has caused deep divisions in the Morrisons board.

At the company’s annual meeting, Morrison said he will stand down as chairman of the retailer in 2008.

It has been rumoured that Morrison has long favoured a candidate drawn from within the ranks of Morrisons. It remains unclear whether Meakins’ withdrawal will leave the way clear for Bolland and Wild.

Morrisons refused to comment on the issue and was unable to clarify whether Meakins’ decision would result in further delays in the appointment of a CEO. At the AGM last week, Morrison told shareholders that the board of directors expected to make a definitive announcement within a matter of weeks.