Following the appointment of Chipotle Mexican Grill’s CEO Brian Niccol to chairman, the chain’s Founder Steve Ells has left the board and vacated his executive chairman title. Ells started the chain in 1993 when he brought the first store to the University of Denver vicinity, and then expanded the concept to over 2,000 restaurants. He was chief executive until 2017, CNBC reported.
Niccol stepped into the chief executive role in March. He said in an announcement, “I am grateful to Steve for his mentorship and guidance since I joined Chipotle two years ago. Our key strategies are working, and I am proud of the results the team has achieved. We are building a sustainable model to cultivate a better world, while enhancing value for our shareholders.”
Ells said in the announcement, “Brian has proven that he is absolutely the right person to lead Chipotle forward, and I’ve never been more confident about the future of this great company. I am especially grateful to the employees and our valued customers over the last 27 years who helped make Chipotle the unmatched brand in fast-casual dining it is today.”
The company also announced that Paul Cappuccio and Matthew Paull will not stand for re-election at its yearly shareholder meeting. “Matt and Paul have been vital members of the Board through a transformational time in the company’s history,” Niccol said in the announcement. “Their strategic maturity and clear-eyed business experience have benefited this company tremendously.”
In separate news, Chipotle Mexican Grill reported a comparable restaurant sales increase of 13.4 percent for Q4. The company opened 80 new restaurants, with the inclusion of one relocation, and closed three locations over the quarter.
Niccol said in an earnings call with analysts that the company significantly upgraded its capabilities last year by finishing the rollout of digital pickup shelves, digitizing its digital make line and growing its delivery digital capabilities to over 98 percent of its store base, per news in February.