Michael Smith, the chief executive of Thatcham, the motor insurers' research centre, is retiring next spring after almost ten years at the company.

He will remain at the centre while his successor is found by recruiters Whitehead Mann GHR and he will also continue as secretary-general of the Research Council for Automobile Repairs.

Thatcham is funded jointly by the major motor insurers and Lloyd's and has a budget of £6m. Its aims are to ensure insurance premium stability and safety improvements for motor vehicles.