CBI Scotland last week appointed Edinburgh head-hunting company FWB Park Brown to find a replacement for its director, Iain McMillan, who retires at the end of this month after 19 years.

The search process, combined with the likely notice period of a potential successor to the respected business leader, leaves the employers' organisation potentially facing an interregnum of several months.

A spokesman for the organisation cited the pressures of the referendum campaign for its failure to start recruitment when McMillan, 63, announced his retirement in April. He said Andrew Palmer, director of membership and operations, would be "helping with the transition".

After a 23-year career in banking and two years as CBI Scotland assistant director, McMillan became director of in 1995. He surprised observers by announcing his resignation in the midst of a storm over CBI Scotland's status as a "campaigning organisation" in the referendum campaign, although the CBI insisted at the time that his resignation was decided in January and was unconnected to the row.

McMillan said on Friday that the referendum No vote would "be greeted by a collective sigh of relief across the business community". He added: "It's now time for all of us to draw a line under the independence debate and turn our attention to building a world-class economy for Scotland's future."

Meanwhile, the executive director of the Institute of Directors Scotland, David Watt, said a "new Scotland" needs to "get together to focus on growth and the economy to deliver the prosperous country we all want".

"IoD Scotland and Scotland's business leaders now look to the parties to pull together and deliver the best result for Scotland within the Union," he said. "Greater fiscal and political autonomy for Scotland are on the way and previously opposing groups now need to work together, and with the business sector, to make sure that the outcome is successful."