Bill’s, the Richard Caring-backed group, has further strengthened its operations team with the appointment of Kai Hepworth, formerly of Costa, as regional director of operations, MCA has learnt.

Hepworth joins the 76-strong Bill’s, which is led by Mark Fox, after four years with Costa, including the last two as operations director UK North.

Graham Ford, executive director of operations for Bill’s, told MCA: “We are delighted that an operator of Kai’s pedigree has chosen to join Bill’s as regional director of operations at this exciting time in our journey. Kai will replace Rebecca Light who joined us three and a half years ago as operations manager before moving up to regional head of operations. Rebecca will be greatly missed but I am sure Kai will quickly gel with the team and prepare them for our next period of growth. Much of that growth will be outside the south east and will fall into Kai’s area of responsibility and so we’re making sure he has a great immersion so that he’s ready for the challenge.”

The company saw turnover climb 20.5% to £110.5m in the year to the end of July 2016, with EBITDA increasing 8.9% to £13.5m. It is on track to post turnover of over £115m in its current financial year

MCA revealed earlier this year, that Bill’s plans to launch its new grab-and-go format, which has been developed under the name Little Bill’s”, this summer in London, whilst also putting its foot down on expansion for its core brand.

Fox told MCA that the best way he could describe the new grab-and-go format was that it was “Pret meets Leon with a difference”. He said that the group was close to securing one or two sites in London for the format and that if it tests well he believed the company could eventually open 300-400 under the concept.

In terms of the 76-strong core brand, Fox believes that it still has scope to double in size and is again working on building the group’s pipeline, with the group set to add to its London estate after securing the La Tasca in Cardinal Place, Victoria.