Hallenstein Glasson chief executive Graeme Popplewell will step down from the day-to-day running of the clothing retailer at the end of the year, after five years at the helm.

Popplewell will retire as chief executive at the end of the year, while retaining a seat on the board as a non-executive director, the Auckland-based company said in a statement. Popplewell took over the top job in February 2011 a year after being tapped to head the menswear Hallenstein division, having first joined Hallenstein Bros 45 years ago.

He has been on the board of Hallenstein since 1985, overseeing its merger with Glasson that year and seen a trebling of its store footprint and expansion across the Tasman.

"The past five years have seen an unprecedented change in retail with the explosion of ecommerce and the globalisation of so many brands," Popplewell said. "It's been intense and we've had to reinvent the business to successfully meet the changing market."

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Retailers have borne the brunt of changing consumer behaviour as the rise of online shopping undermined traditional 'bricks and mortar' networks, leading to several high-profile failures including Pumpkin Patch and Dick Smith Electronics.

Those in the rag trade have felt it acutely, with government figures showing consumer prices for clothing have shrunk 1.4 per cent since 2011 when Popplewell took over the reins of Hallenstein Glasson, while the value of annual sales was up 2.8 per cent indicating margins have been squeezed through that period.

For Hallenstein Glasson that's seen the shares fall to $3.04 from $3.83 when Popplewell was appointed, having peaked at $5.85 in April 2013.

Popplewell said he anticipates the next five years will see "major technological advances" with changing customer demands.

"We need to be equal to any international retailer to be able to compete," he said. "It's not just about one element - it's everything - product, marketing the stores and finding the right people to lead your brands."

Hallenstein Glasson's ecommerce offering was expanding at an annual 30 percent pace, and "becoming a significant part of the business," he said.

The retailer reported a 21 per cent drop in profit to $13.7 million on a 0.9 per cent increase in sales for the 2016 financial year, reflecting a loss from its Glassons unit in Australia and weaker earnings from its flagship menswear chain.

The company's board has started an international search for a new chief executive.