ROGER Davis, chairman of the Local Authority Caterers Association (LACA), is to quit his public sector post to join contract caterer BET Catering Services.
Mr Davis is currently general manager of Dudley Catering Services but will leave the direct service organisation (DSO) to become BET's divisional director with responsibility for local authority and NHS contracts. The move takes effect from 1 June.
Mr Davis told Caterer there was bound to be concern among LACA members that the association would no longer be chaired by a DSO representative.
But he said LACA was a professional body, with some 60 of its 660 members coming from contract caterers including BET, Bromwich Catering, CCG, Compass subsidiary Chartwells, Gardner Merchant and Russell & Brand.
Mr Davis will remain as chairman of LACA until its AGM in October, when he is due to stand down at the end of his two-year term.
The move was in danger of being seen as even more controversial in light of the fact that bids were due in this week for Dudley's ú5m-a-year school meals, welfare and civic catering contract.
But Mr Davis said BET had withdrawn from the bidding "on ethical grounds", leaving the DSO to compete with CCG and Chartwells.
"This is a career opportunity for me. I'll be joining a young and dynamic company, and remain working in public sector catering, which I find highly inspiring," he said.
Mr Davis predicted more and more people currently working in DSOs would transfer to the private sector in future.