Dave Brooks, the chief executive of major own-brand premium cakes supplier Finsbury Food Group, who steered the business into its number two position within the UK cake industry, is to step down from his role with effect from 29 September.

Brooks will be replaced by major shareholder Martin Lightbody, previously group strategic development director, who owns 26.6% of the company, following Finsbury’s acquisition of Lightbody Celebration Cakes in February 2007.The 41-year-old Brooks, who spearheaded the group’s acquisition trail after it formed in 2002, told British Baker that his departure would be unlikely to lead to a change of direction for Finsbury, which has made big gains in the premium cakes, celebration cakes and, more recently, the gluten-free bakery sector, following the £8.9 million acquisition of Yorkshire Farm Bakery and A&P Foods in April.

“Part of the benefit of the group is to have some new ideas coming in,” he said. “But I don’t see us moving away from premium, from celebration, from health or from our brands. The board is very clear that the next 18 months will not be about acquisitions, but about driving the businesses that we’ve got in tough economic times, by driving efficiency.”

Brooks, who is set to pocket £300,000 upon his departure, revealed that he had no imminent plans other than to fulfil a consultancy role for Finsbury until March 2009, and left for personal reasons.

He said: “I have absolutely no plans whatsoever apart from going to watch England versus South Africa and going on a cricket tour for a week; then I’ll be coming back to do the annual report and accounts and I’ll be with Finsbury for six months in an advisory role.

“I’ve never had a career plan and I don’t need one now; it sounds flippant but I got to the stage where I said: ’been there, done that, try something else’; whether that’s in the food or related industries, we’ll see.”

In addition, John Duffy will join the group today (2 September) as chief operating officer. Duffy has previously been managing director of WT Foods and held senior directorships at both Golden Wonder and Mars.

Paul Monk, a non-executive since December 2002, will assume a more active role in the commercial direction of the group, also with immediate effect. Monk previously worked for Marks & Spencer, Mars and Golden Wonder.