The Biscuit Cake Chocolate and Confectionery Association's director general Penny Hawley is to step down following a decision to transfer the majority of the BCCCA's activities to a sector group within the Food and Drink Federation.

Hawley will be leaving the association once the transfer is completed in January 2008 to spend more time with her family.

Hawley joined the BCCCA in March 2002 as communications director, where she managed the association's media and parliamentary relations. In 2005 she was promoted to director general following the retirement of Mike Webber OBE.

Prior to joining the BCCCA, Hawley worked in communications with clients such as Kraft and the Association of Plastic Manufacturers in Europe, where she focused specifically on issues regarding sustainability and the environment.

"It has been a fascinating time to be in the industry and to see the changes that have taken place in terms of sustainability, social responsibility and reformulation," said Hawley.

"But trade associations, reflecting their membership, must move with the times," she added.

Hawley said the BCCCA had been in talks with members since last September about how to handle the rising expectations of the sector, particularly in the area of sustainability.

As a result, it was agreed the BCCCA should have a single focus on cocoa sustainability, while other areas such as trade, supply, technical and regulatory matters would be passed on to an active sector group within the Food and Drink Federation.

The BCCCA said it was currently in consultation with staff about the changes, but it was expected that some of the BCCCA team would be transferred to the Food and Drink Federation to ensure continuity.