Chipotle Mexican Grill today announced that Steve Ells, founder chairman and CEO, will become executive chairman following the completion of a search to identify a new CEO, a press release said.
The board has formed a search committee comprised of Directors Robin Hickenlooper and Ali Namvar, as well as Ells, to identify a new leader with demonstrated turnaround expertise to help address the challenges facing the company, improve execution, build customer trust, and drive sales.
"I am incredibly proud of Chipotle and our people — and grateful to our loyal customers — and while we are continuing to make progress, it is clear that we need to move faster to make improvements," said Ells, who was named sole CEO last year after Co-CEO Monty Moran stepped down. "Simply put, we need to execute better to ensure our future success. The board and I are committed to bringing in an experienced leader with a passion for driving excellence across every aspect of our business, including the customer experience, operations, marketing, technology, food safety and training."
Bringing in a new CEO is the right thing to do for all stakeholders, Ells said, saying it will allow him to focus on his strengths, which include bringing innovation to the way the chain sources and prepares food.
"It will ultimately improve our ability to provide our guests with delicious food that is prepared with high-quality ingredients that are raised responsibly and served in a way that is accessible to everyone," he said in the release. "I am confident that this will allow us to deliver value for our shareholders, and provide rewarding opportunities for our employees. Chipotle has vast unrealized potential. As we work hard to restore our brand, I believe we can capitalize on opportunities, including in areas such as the digital experience, menu innovation, delivery, catering, and domestic and international expansion, to deliver significant growth."
Chipotle Lead Independent Director Neil W. Flanzraich said, "Steve is a visionary leader and one of the most successful restaurateurs in history, having grown Chipotle from a single restaurant in Colorado to more than 2,350 restaurants today. Steve made the decision, and the board agreed, that now is the right time to identify a new CEO who can reinvigorate the brand and help the company achieve its potential. We are committed to recruiting a world-class CEO for this incredible opportunity."
The board has retained the services of leading executive recruitment firm Spencer Stuart to assist in the search for a new CEO.
Topics: Franchising & Growth