Stuart Black faces a year on gardening leave after this week quitting his chief executive post at Mears, the £200m-turnover social housing contractor.

Black clashed with former chief executive and current executive chairman Bob Holt over the structure of the business.

It is understood that there have been no negotiations to reduce Black’s one-year notice period.

The resignation surprised the City because the company had been performing well – a trading statement last month stated that results would be “at the upper end of market expectations”. This would suggest a 2006 pre-tax profit approaching £12.5m, up from £9.8m in 2005.

However, it is understood that Holt, who was chief executive for nine years until Black’s promotion in 2005, had become more involved in the business again in recent months.

A source close to Mears said: “You cannot have two chief executives. Holt very much wanted his baby back.”

An analyst at Numis said Black’s approach was “more centralised” and that this went against the “operations heritage” of the company. “[The two executives] are perceived as chalk and cheese in their management style.”