Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG) announced on Wednesday that co-founder and CEO, Steve Ells will step down from his CEO positions. Ells will remain as executive chairman, but now the fast food Mexican chain restaurant will begin searching for a new CEO.
Chipotle shares were up 4.7 percent during Wednesday’s premarket hours.
After repeated health concerns and violations from the E. coli outbreak in 2015 to the norovirus contamination in Virginia in the summer, the chain has had a challenging recovery effort in the recent years. Chipotle desperately needed a turnaround for the company.
The struggling chain and pressure were the reasons that led to former co-CEO, Monty Moran to step down in 2016 after sharing the position with Ells from 2009. Now, Ells has followed the steps of Moran in efforts to reshape the company.
“It is clear that we need to move faster to make improvements,” said Ells. “Simply put, we need to execute better to ensure our future success.”
“Bringing in a new CEO is the right thing to do for all our stakeholders,” added Ells.
Ells says he is committed to focusing on his strengths to bring innovation to change around the company prepares and delivers its food to consumers. Ells has maintained the goal since the beginning of providing high quality ingredients as well as being raised properly.
“I am confident that this will allow us to deliver value for our shareholders, and provide rewarding opportunities for our employees,” said Ells, “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.”
“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.” said Chipotle lead independent director, Neil W. Flanzraich.
The Board has formed a search committee comprised of Directors Robin Hickenlooper, Ali Namvar, and Ells. The Board also retained the services of Spencer Stuart to assist in the search for a new CEO.