Lactalis chairman Michel Leonard has confirmed that he will step down from his post at the end of the year.

Leonard told just-food that it had been agreed when he took the job in 2003 that he would relinquish the chairmanship on 31 December 2009.

"I'll be 60 in August and have worked for 40 years, 27 in top management positions. I want to break with the rhythm of 5am-10pm working days and devote more time to my family," he said

Leonard said the remaining months of his tenure would be devoted to "ensuring Lactalis' profitability in 2009 amid difficult market conditions while continuing to keep an eye on opportunities for external growth".

The French dairy group's current director of international affairs, Daniel Jaouen, will succeed him on 1 January 2010. Jaouen has been with Lactalis for the past 20 years.