Dairy Crest today (20 July) announced the resignation of its chief executive, who is stepping down for personal reasons. The dairy company also told investors at its AGM that trading expectations remained unchanged in a challenging market.

The cheese and milk processor said Drummond Hall would take early retirement at the end of December and would be replaced by Mark Allen, currently executive managing director of the company’s dairies division. Hall will stay on in a part time capacity until the end of April 2007.

Simon Oliver, chairman, said: “Throughout his time with Dairy Crest Drummond has played a key role in developing the group’s successful strategy to grow the branded and added value side of the business. This has delivered strong shareholder returns since the group’s flotation in 1996 and he will leave Dairy Crest well placed for the future.

“We shall be sad to see Drummond go and we wish him well in his retirement. We know however that with Mark as his successor the group will be in strong hands to continue its development.”

However, a number of challenges lay ahead for Allen, not least the current climate of competitive market conditions and escalating costs.

“Whilst as anticipated market conditions remain challenging, the group’s expectations for the current financial year ending 31 March 2007 are unchanged,” Oliver said.