Ivan Schofield, who has been managing director of KFC Western Europe since 2011, is to become the new chief executive of Ed’s Easy Diner, the fast-growing 1950’s American diner concept, M&C has learnt.

As managing director KFC Western Europe Schofield, who has been with Yum! Brands for the last 15 years, was responsible for a business comprising 450 company and franchise outlets across 15 countries. He also grew KFC France from 20 outlets to nearly 200 and occupied senior finance roles based in the UK.

He will join the 49-strong company later this month and will succeed Andrew Guy who will retire from the business at the end of the year. It is intended that Guy, who has overseen the rebirth and growth of the business and is non-executive chairman of the Coaching Inn Group, will retain a relationship with the company in an advisory capacity.

Schofield told M&C: “The Ed’s take on the 1950’s American diner concept has incredible allure and energy. I have always been drawn towards brands that have this energy and a real story to tell. Moreover, the consumer proposition, operating system and business model of Ed’s come together to make a compelling investable proposition and growth story. Beyond that Ed’s has a great organisational culture and a strong social conscience, two further essential ingredients for success today.”

M&C understands that Simon Wilkinson, currently chief executive of La Tasca, was also approached regarding the role.

Ed’s has expanded rapidly since 2009 from three diners to its current 49-strong estate. That pace of growth is anticipated to continue with the company stating that it has its “strongest ever site pipeline with visibility into 2017”. It is thought the company believes there is scope to grow the brand to 150 sites in the UK.

Stephen Greene, chairman, said: “Ivan is an outstanding appointment for Ed’s. With close to 50 diners we are now a significant business and the largest operator in our segment. Ivan’s considerable experience in managing rapid development and scale will be pivotal during our next stage of development. With this, he has amassed a wealth of experience in building consumer brands, innovation, new unit development, operations, International expansion, franchising and talent development.

“Until he retires, Andrew will continue to bring his experience to the business and work with Ivan, handing over years of knowledge of the UK casual dining market and Ed’s operations. Andrew’s tireless effort, operational expertise and constant enthusiasm has contributed enormously to Ed’s success and has provided the perfect foundation for the future for which we at Ed’s are all immensely grateful.

Schofield said: “I’m delighted to be joining the Ed’s team and to have the privilege of leading the organisation through its next phase of development. I have huge admiration for what Andrew and the team have done so far. The brand has strength beyond its scale and is a terrific concept with great products, affordable prices and excellent service, underpinned by the timeless and universal appeal of the 1950s American Diner.”

M&C revealed earlier this year that Ed’s had appointed head hunters to commence the search for a possible successor to current chief executive Guy.

Guy, who has led the fast growing brand since the start of 2010 and has over 35 years’ experience in the sector, was expected to step away as chief executive should the company complete a transaction later this year.

The group appointed corporate advisory firm McQueen to advise it on its financing options, with a sale process targeted for the final quarter of this year.

The company, which is in advanced talks to launch in the Middle East, expects to open 20 new sites under its core brand this year.