The founder of Jones Soda, Peter van Stolk, has resigned from the soft drinks group's board due to "concerns" about the company's direction.

Jones said in a stock market filing today (9 April) that van Stolk's resignation was effective from 3 April.

"In his resignation letter to the board of directors, Mr van Stolk stated that he was concerned with the direction of the company and believed it was time for him to pursue other interests," the firm said.

Further details were not given, except that van Stolk will receive a payout of US$350,000.

In 1987, van Stolk founded beverage company Urban Hand, which gave birth to Jones Soda Co in 1996. Van Stolk served as the firm's CEO and president from its inception the end of 2007.

His departure is a blow for the group, which has struggled of late in a weakening North American soft drinks market.

The Washington-based soft drinks company, which owns its namesake range of soft drinks, said on 12 March that net loss in the 12 months to the end of December rose to US$15.2m, compared to a loss of $11.6m in 2007. Sales fell by 10% in 2008.

Separately, Jones said that current COO, Joth Ricci, will replace Stephen Jones as president and CEO from 1 May. 

In October, Jones announced a plan to cut 38% of its workforce, totalling 42 jobs, in an effort to reduce operating expenses.