Joe Rubino of The Denver Post writes the man who turned a tiny burrito shop near the University of Denver into an international brand will soon be out as Chipotle Mexican Grill’s CEO.
Steve Ells, the founder of the Denver-based fast-casual chain, will leave his post as chairman and CEO to become executive chairman after a replacement has been found, the company announced Wednesday.
A committee that includes Ells and directors Ali Namvar and Robin Hickenlooper, wife of Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, has been formed to find a leader with demonstrated turnaround expertise, the company said.
Whoever takes the job will be tasked with helping the chain climb out of protracted market malaise caused, in part, by outbreaks of foodborne illness linked to some of its restaurants, first in 2015, then again earlier this year.
Co-CEO Monty Moran stepped down in December, leaving Ells with control of the company as it faced pressures from activist investor Bill Ackman, whose Pershing Square Capital hedge fund took a nearly 10 percent stake in September 2016. Ackman said then that he wanted improvement in Chipotle’s “operations, cost structure, management and strategy.”