Auto and aircraft partsmaker GKN on Thursday said CEO Kevin Smith would retire at the end of 2011 after nine years in the post. He joined the board in 1999 as head of the aerospace division and became chief executive in January 2003.

Nigel Stein, currently chief executive automotive, will replace Smith from 1 January 2012. Stein, on the board since 2001, has headed the automotive unit since June 2007 and previously was group finance director.

Smith said in a statement: “After nine years as chief executive, I feel the time is right for me to step down with the company now entering a new phase and well positioned to deliver sustainable growth.”