Michael Pearson, until recently operations director at Ping Pong, is to become managing director of Benito’s Hat, the six-strong Mexican concept, with founder Ben Fordham set to move to the US.

Pearson, who joined Ping Pong in July 2014 and previously had a stint as head of F&B UK for InterContinental Hotels Group, will join the company next month but officially take over next year and a handover period with Fordham.

Fordham, which founded the Calculus Capital-backed group, has twice before looked to take a step back from the business he founded in 2008.

Last February, Richard Baker, formerly of The Restaurant Group, stepped down as chief executive of Benito’s Hat, Fordham again taking over the running of the group.

Baker joined group in the spring of 2014, taking over from Graham Ford, former operations director at Strada.

Fordham said he decided it was time to fulfil his long-term promise to his Texan wife to move with the family to the US and pursue some exciting opportunities.

The company will open its first regional site in Oxford on the 24 October 2017 at the Westgate scheme.

It said it was returning its highest profit for several years - more than £200k positive swing in EBITDA from the previous 12 months.

Fordham will remain involved at board level as well as providing support to Pearson and his team.

The company said that at Ping Pong, Pearson delivered the most financially successful period in the dim sum chain’s history over the last three years and leaves the group in a much stronger position for his tenure.

It said he would oversee the rapid expansion of Benito’s Hat, with further high street and smaller format venues planned for 2018.

Benito’s Hat currently operates restaurants in Covent Garden, Oxford Circus, Goodge Street, Farringdon, King’s Cross and Bromley.