Finsbury Food Group will undergo a management reshuffle at the end of the month following the unexpected departure of its chief executive, Dave Brooks.

Brooks, who has been at the helm of the cake and bread manufacturer since 2002, will leave on 29 September but remain a consultant in the group until the end of March.

After 11 years in the industry it was time to move on, he said, “not only to allow some new ideas into the business to drive the group on to its next level, but also to generate new opportunities for myself”. He will be succeeded by Martin Lightbody, group strategic development director and MD of cake manufacturer Lightbody prior to its acquisition by the group in February 2007. Lightbody owns a 27% share of the group.

Meanwhile, John Duffy – former MD of WT Foods – has been appointed chief operating officer. He has a strong track record of operational management, having also held senior directorships at Golden Wonder and Mars. Paul Monk, a non-executive director at Finsbury since 2002, will assume a more active role in the commercial direction of the group. Monk has spent “significant time” at Mars, M&S and Golden Wonder.

Speaking about Brooks’ departure, David Marshall, Finsbury chairman, said the group would “miss his ability to not only drive the strategic vision but also support his team with his fine attention to detail”.

However, he added: “We respect his decision to move on and look forward to our continued growth under the stewardship of Martin, who has a proven track record in running a large food manufacturer.”

Brooks, who helped create the group in 2002 and led its growth organically and through strategic acquisitions, said: “I have loved my time with Finsbury and will miss the people in the business as well as all our external stakeholders who have been very supportive.”

Finsbury is the second-largest player in the UK cake industry and the market leader in the supply of gluten-free goods to the multiples.