CHARLOTTE, N.C., — Sonic Automotive announced that co-founder B. Scott Smith is stepping down as CEO and president of the company. Smith, who spent more than 21 years as a director and executive officer, will remain with the company to ensure a smooth leadership transition.

Succeeding Smith as CEO is brother David Bruton Smith. Jeff Dyke, who has served as Sonic's executive vice president of operation since 2008, will serve as president.

"Sonic Automotive is a fantastic company run by thousands of fantastic employees to whom I am deeply grateful for their hard work and dedication," said B. Scott Smith. "It has been a pleasure and great privilege to lead the company. I am excited to move into a different role that will allow me to spend more time with my family, and I am also committed to help David, Jeff and our other teammates with a smooth transition."

David Smith served as the public dealer group's executive vice chairman and chief strategic officer. Over his more than 20 years with the company, he has held several other executive leadership roles, including executive vice president, senior vice president of corporate development, vice president of corporate strategy, and dealer operator and general manager of several of the group's dealerships.

After working at AutoNation for nine years, Dyke joined Sonic in 2005 as vice president of retail strategy — a position he held until April 2006. He was then promoted to division vice president for Sonic's Eastern division, a position he held until he was promoted to COO of Sonic's Southeastern division in March 2007. He remained in that role until his promotion to his current position as executive vice president of operations.   

"I am grateful to Scott for his many years of outstanding service and leadership. He has been instrumental in charting our course and helping to build one of the nation's largest automotive retailers," said O. Burton Smith, Sonic's founder and executive chairman. "At the same time, we have a very talented executive leadership team, and we are confident that David's and Jeff's deep knowledge of our businesses, commitment to our culture, and focus on value creation for stockholders have prepared them well."

William I. Belk, the company's lead independent director, added, "This announcement is the result of our planned succession process being implemented. The company's independent directors have strong confidence in David and Jeff. We also are appreciative of Scott's great work over the past two decades and know his continued role as an advisor to David, Jeff and the rest of the leadership team will be invaluable."