MUMBAI—Perfect Relations CEO Valerie Pinto is stepping down after 16 years with the Indian PR firm.

Pinto, who rose through the ranks at Perfect after joining as an account executive in 1999, will exit the business at the end of the month.

She told the Holmes Report that she will focus on starting a food business, denying that she is to join another agency. Pinto noted that she has started consulting for Burger King in India and plans to start a gourmet food company.

"After 16 years, I think it’s just the right time," said Pinto of her decision to leave Perfect. "It’s a great organisation; we started from having not much to having all of the possible brands you could work with in the country. Great people, strong team." 

Pinto added that the national CEO role, which she has held since 2010, will pass to Shashikant Someshwar, currently VP of operations. However, when contacted by the Holmes Report, co-founder and group CEO Bobby Kewalramani said that he and fellow co-founder Dilip Cherian would take a more hands on role as CEOs.

Under Pinto's leadership, Perfect was named Indian Consultancy of the Year by the Holmes Report in 2013. It has grown to become India's second-largest independent PR firm, worth approximately $10m. 

In recent months, there has been persistent speculation of a Perfect Relations sale. However, Pinto dismissed this as a factor in her decision."It's time to do something on my own."