Comptoir Group has announced that it has appointed former Leon MD Nick Ayerst as its new chief executive, effective from 17 October 2022.

Ayerst will take over from Jean-Michel Orieux, who has been interim CEO since August 2022, after former CEO Chaker Hanna stepped down, alongside chair Richard Kleiner. Orieux will revert to his role as independent non-executive director.

The appointment of the new CEO, along with recent appointments of Beatrice Lafon as chair and Orieux as independent non-executive chair and independent non-executive director respectively, significantly strengthens the senior leadership team as the company seeks to accelerate its growth trajectory, investing in the brand and customer experience, accelerating the opening of new restaurants and exploiting opportunities in franchising and wholesale, said the group.

Ayerst had more than 30 years’ experience in hospitality, having previously served as MD at Leon. He was brought on board in 2020 to restructure its operational model, to invest in tech and increasing efficiencies and to develop growth strategies including Leon’s drive-thru model and franchising partnerships.

Prior to that he spent 15 years in leadership roles at The Restaurant Group, including as MD of TRG Concessions.

Commenting on his appointment, Ayerst said: “I am joining Comptoir Group at an exciting time for the Company. The strength of the Comptoir brand, talented team and vision of the new Board to grow the business and deliver a best in class offering for its guests make this a great opportunity. I see tremendous potential for the company to grow and capture market share and I look forward to building on Comptoir’s success.”

Beatrice Lafon, chair, added: “We are excited to welcome Nick to Comptoir Group as our new chief executive officer. Nick brings over 30 years’ relevant experience in the sector, with the combination of skills and energy to lead the business through Comptoir’s next strategic growth phase.”