The Yorkshire Post can exclusively reveal that Lesley is to retire from the business. She will be officially cease work in March and will be succeeded as chair by Clare Morrow - a board member at Bettys for five years..
Lesley, who joined the business in 1979 as Export Manager, is the third generation of the Belmont Family to run the business, being married to founder Frederick Belmont's great-nephew Jonathan.
During her time with the iconic Yorkshire tea rooms and food business, Bettys & Taylors has become an international business with millions of customers and record sales.
In a notice to staff Lesley said: "The New Year always heralds new beginnings and this year is most definitely no exception. That’s because I’d like to take this opportunity to announce my retirement from the business in March this year.
"I have been an integral part of Bettys and Taylors for over 41 years. Leading this business has been my life’s work and joy. I’ve taken true delight in watching the business grow, not just in terms of prosperity, but also in terms of reputation, winning a place in so many customers’ hearts across the world."
The firm has spent the last few years preparing a succession plan.
Lesley said: "The last few years has seen my focus shift to ensuring we have the right leadership in place to take us through the transition from a family leader like me to a new non-family Chair of the Board. We have an experienced Board, a credible CCEO and a Family Council – led by my daughter, Chloe, and which now solely comprises the next generation of family members. I have complete faith in all of them and am sure the leadership of this business is in safe hands.
"So, I’m delighted to announce that Clare Morrow, who has served on our Board for five years, will take up the position of Chair on 6th March. She has worked closely with the business as a non-executive Board director and has a close relationship with the family, thanks to her leadership of our Constitution Committee and her work with Shareholders. She cares deeply about this special business, its people and its customers."
Born in East Yorkshire and schooled in Harrogate, she qualified as a lawyer and also studied at art college. She joined the board in the mid 1980s.