Rory Marthinusen has stepped down as managing director of River Cottage Canteen, to join Giggling Squid, the BGF-backed Thai casual dining group, as its new chief operating officer MCA has learnt.

Marthinusen joined the Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall-backed group last year after 12 months as managing director at Brasserie Blanc, after previously being the chain’s operations director for three years. He left following the completion of a full refurbishment programme of Brasserie Blanc and 12 years with the business.

He joined River Cottage Canteen last April as it looked to consolidate its estate and drive growth into other areas.

That consolidation saw it close its site in Plymouth’s Royal William Yard, leaving it with three sites in Bristol, Winchester and Axminster.

Earlier this year, Brasserie Bar Co financial controller Mark Priest joined Giggling Squid as its new finance director.

Giggling Squid is to open its second London site after recently securing a site in Kingston-upon-Thames.

The 24-strong group secured the former Jamie’s Italian site on the High Street, which closed earlier this year, for a launch later in 2018.

The group, which is led by Andy Laurillard, has five further sites secured so far for openings this year in Bishops Stortford, Cheltenham, Chichester, Harpenden and Windsor.

Speaking in February, co-founder Laurillard said: “All our restaurants are ahead of last year apart from one, which is an amazing result. Recent openings have been particularly successful, proving that demand for our offer is stronger than ever.”