Garry Hawkes has resigned as chairman of contract caterer Gardner Merchant, the UK division of Paris-based Sodexho Alliance.
He will continue to act as a consultant to Gardner Merchant and serve as a director with Sodexho. Gardner Merchant has still to decide whether to appoint a successor.
Hawkes's decision comes four years after Gardner Merchant joined Sodexho in a £730m deal. "After 36 years with Gardner Merchant, I feel it's time to hand over to a younger management team," he said.
Hawkes intends to concentrate on his outside interests. He is president of the British Hospitality Association and president of the industry charity Hospitality Action.