First Milk has confirmed that its chief executive Peter Humphreys is to leave the co-op next year.

Rumours of his resignation were circulating yesterday (3 December), but an official statement from First Milk released this morning confirmed that Mr Humphreys would leave the business at the end of March 2010.

As a result of the decision, First Milk’s newly-appointed chairman, Bill Mustoe, will also take over responsibility for leading the executive team. Mr Humphreys will remain at First Milk in an “advisory capacity” until his departure.

“Since I took over as chairman at the end of October, my focus has been on speeding up the work that had already started on reducing our cost base and growing our profit streams,” Mr Mustoe said. “To this end, Peter and I have worked closely to develop a range of activities that will be delivered between now and the end of March to improve our milk price.

“Alongside this work, Peter and I have also been considering how we can best structure the Executive team in order to drive the improvements that are required.”

Peter Humphreys added: “Given the new phase that the business is moving into, I believe that it is appropriate that I step aside from the chief executive role. I will be on hand to support Bill and the business over the next few months in whatever way I can.”