The chief executive and founder of Australian wine company McGuigan Simeon is to stand down.

At the company's annual AGM, Brian McGuigan said that he wanted to step back from the day-to-day pressure of running the company to focus on wine industry initiatives and to spend time with his wife. An executive search firm has been engaged to find a replacement, but McGuigan would remain as CEO while the search continued for the right candidate.

He also said he intended to sell some of his shares - McGuigan owns about 8% of the company - in the near future to fund some personal interests and diversify his financial portfolio, but intended to remain a significant shareholder.

"I intend to stay involved with the company. I love the industry and the company. It bears my name and I believe in what we can do in the future," he said.

McGuigan, 63, has been in the wine industry for 45 years having launched Brian McGuigan Wines with his wife, Fay, in 1992. It merged with Simeon wines in 2002 and bought Miranda Wines in 2003.

The announcement accompanied a profit warning from McGuigan Simeon.

The company said yesterday that it expects net profit for the six months to December to be around A$6-8m (US$4.4-5.9m), down from A$12.4m a year earlier.