First Milk boss Peter Humphreys (pictured) has announced his surprise exit from the dairy business.

The First Milk chief executive of will leave the business at the end of March 2010, when chairman Bill Mustoe - who only joined the group in October - will formally take the reins.

Mustoe said plans to restructure the group’s executive team were among a number of “activities” that he and Humphreys had collaborated on to reduce the cost base of First Milk and improve profits.

“We have now jointly agreed that the timing is right to announce that he will leave the business at the end of March 2010,” said Mustoe.

“As a result, I have decided to immediately take over direct responsibility for leading the executive team. This will enable me to gain a more detailed understanding of how the business operates.”

Humphreys will retain an advisory role in the run-up to his departure, which follows a four-year stint as chief executive.

“Given the new phase that the business is moving into, I believe it is appropriate that I step aside from the chief executive role,” he said.

In September, First Milk posted a £7m loss for the year after volatility in the global dairy ingredients market hit profitability.

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