Mitre 10 New Zealand boss Neil Cowie has resigned from the retail company.

After five years in the role he will step down early March to spend time with his family. He will take a break before considering the next step in his career.

Matthew Washington, Mitre 10's chief financial officer, has been appointed as acting CEO while the board begins an international search for a successor.

Mitre 10 chairman Martin Dippie said Cowie had led the home improvement retailer through a period of growth and it was now in good stead for the future.

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"Neil has been a pleasure to work with – he has a real passion for retail, has thrived in our co-operative environment by building strong and genuine relationships with our members and suppliers alike," Dippie said.

"I believe his greatest achievement has been his contribution to the future vision for Mitre 10 and building a really strong executive leadership team to deliver this."

Cowie said he had enjoyed working with the co-operative over the past five years.

"These past five years have undoubtably been the most enjoyable and satisfying years of my retail career to date. Very few leaders get the opportunity to preside over more than $600m of growth during their tenure," he said.

"I am particularly proud of the unique culture we have created at Mitre 10 which I believe has helped to create sustainable value to our member shareholders, as well as being a great place for people to come and work each day."

Mitre 10 has 83 stores throughout the country and employs close to 5000 staff.