Foods firm boss quits £677,000 post to see more of baby daughter

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The chief executive of one of Britain's biggest companies is to stand down - to spend more time with his 14-month-old daughter.

Drummond Hall, not a stately home but the £677,000-a-year boss of the food company Dairy Crest, stunned the City yesterday when he announced his decision to leave his post in order to fully appreciate the joys of fatherhood.

"I know it sounds like a cliché that I'm spending more time with my family but I genuinely am," said the 56-year-old businessman who has been responsible for leading brands such as Britain's top-selling cheese Cathedral City and the popular spread Utterly Butterly.

"There is nothing untoward about this, but I have just decided to have a change of direction. It's not a decision I have taken lightly.

"My daughter was born just 14 months ago and I want to watch her growing up and not miss that. I have been on the board for a long stint of time now," he said. For Mr Hall the thrill of dirty nappies, early mornings and incessant repeats of Bob the Builder will be all the sweeter the second time around. He has two grown up children from a previous marriage.

Mr Hall insists he will continue in his job as chief executive until January and will remain with the company as a part-time consultant until April.

He will retain a non-executive directorship with pub and restaurant owner Mitchells & Butlers as well as seeking other non-executive roles.

Last month, Dairy Crest reported pre-tax profits had slumped 10.5 per cent to £67.7m after it lost a contract to supply milk to Tesco and was hit by soaring energy costs.

Julie Hurst, the director of independent consultants the Work Life Balance Centre, said giving up work was not always an easy option and not everyone had the financial situation allowing them to stop or cut down. She said: "One of the major reasons why people continue to overwork is that their job meets many of their psychological needs. It challenges them, gives them value allows them to problem-solve, make a difference and be appreciated.

"A lot of people get this only from work so the psychological drive to keep working is very strong. If you get your needs met from outside work, through family, community, volunteering, hobbies or sport you will find it much easier to adjust to life without work. If all your needs are being met through work it will be much harder."

Yet despite Government and opposition support for reducing Britain's long-hours culture, little progress has been made in the workplace. Research from the TUC showed that while workers' are increasingly demanding to work less, employers are resistant to letting them do so. Three-quarters of the working population had no flexibility in their working hours - considerably lower than in other countries such as Germany.