Paul UK has appointed Mark Hilton as chief executive of the 37-strong French bakery and patisserie chain, replacing Jean-Michel Orieux, who stepped down from the role last year, MCA can reveal.

Maxime Holder, president of Paul International, had taken over responsibility for the UK business in the interim, and has now stepped back following Hilton’s appointment.

Hilton was previously CEO at the Sphera Franchise Group – the holding company operating the franchises for KFC Romania, Italy and Moldova, as well as Pizza Hut and Taco Bell in Romania.

During his time there he listed the company on the Bucharest stock exchange, and doubled the number of stores it operates, as well as introducing new brands (Taco Bell).

Prior to his role at Sphera he was chief operating officer for Yum! Brands franchise business in Europe and has previously worked at Paul in a non-executive role, supporting its international business, and as chief executive of the group operating the Paul franchise in Romania.

Hilton’s main focus will be on driving growth of the brand across the UK and enhancing its product range, relevance and value, said the company.

He intends to expand the brand outside London through franchising, as well as adding to the number of sites it has in the capital through concepts such as Paul Express.

The chain has so far opened two Express sites – in Tottenham Court Road and St Pancras – which are smaller in size and feature a reduced breakfast and lunch menu but with the addition of different hot grab and go options.

Hilton said: ““I am delighted to join Paul and am committed to taking the business forward with further openings, building on the work of Jean-Michel. Paul is a well-respected brand and I am confident that with my talented team we will be able to develop the core proposition to ensure it remains engaging and relevant.

“We will be looking to expand within London and throughout the UK, inviting investors to join the PAUL family as new franchisees.”

Orieux is currently a non-executive director at Paul International.