Devro, the Lanarkshire-based sausage skin maker, has reported "continued weakness" in Japan and challenges in Russia as its chairman has announced he is to stand down after five years.

The stock market-listed firm with 400 employees in Moodiesburn and Bellshill revealed the news in separate statements.

It said that in the year to date underlying operating profit was higher than the equivalent period last year.

The company also said that Gerard Hoetmer has informed the board of his intention to retire as chairman and director of Devro in April after its annual general meeting.

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It told the London Stock Exchange in a third quarter trading update: "We have seen strong volume performances in the period, notably in North America, Latin America, and South East Asia.

"However, Russia has been challenging and we have seen some continued weakness in Japan.

"Production performance at our US plant has maintained its significant improvement over prior year, and the efficiencies are now amongst the highest across the group.

"The focus is now on increasing speeds to further improve the output from the plant."

Devro added: "Our China plant continues to perform well."

Mr Hoetmer was appointed as a director in July 2013 and as chairman in May 2014.

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Mr Hoetmer said: "Having overseen the implementation of the recent capital investment programme, recruitment of a new senior management team and establishment of a new global organisational structure it is time for a new chair to oversee the next stage of Devro's development.

"I wish the company every success for the future."

The board has launched a search for his successor.

It comes after Rutger Helbing earlier took over as chief executive after Peter Page stepped down in February following a decade in charge.

The Devro share price closed firm at 175.2p, up 1.27 per cent.