Helen Jones is to step down as group executive director of Caffe Nero, after five years with the coffee chain, MCA understands.

Jones, who joined the Gerry Ford-led company in the summer of 2012, will officially step down at the end of June but will stay on in a part time capacity until the end of the year to assist with a number of projects.

It is thought Jones, formerly of Zizzi, is keen to further pursue a NED career. She is currently on the board at Halfords Group plc and Ben & Jerry’s.

She joined Caffè Nero in June 2012 after three years at the then Gondola Group-owned Zizzi. Under her leadership, the c120-strong chain opened 22 new restaurants and transformed a further 56.

She was previously European brand director at Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, where she was responsible for its UK launch and subsequent European expansion strategy within Unilever for more than 15 years.

Caffe Nero currently operates c580 sites and has ambitions to grow to c750 in the UK.

Last year, Glyn House, formerly chief operating officer at Wagamama, joined the company as its new managing director.