Abokado, the London-based chain of healthy food bars run by Mark Lilley, has bolstered its management team with the appointment of Richard Zivkovic, formerly of Costa, TRG and Pret A Manger, as its new operations director, M&C Report understands.

Zivkovic, who has been in the industry since 1995, was previously a regional operations director for London at Costa. He also spent a brief time at The Restaurant Group as operation director in its concessions business.

Before that he was head of operations – City at Pret A Manger and spent two years as operations director at Be At One.

The 23-strong group said it experienced single digit like-for-like growth through the first quarter. However, there was “weaker trading March year on year than prior two months (still positive LFL) due to much lower temps”.

The group is due to open its next site in the capital later this month, with a further two units under offer.

Last year, Lilley said that the company had lined up a pipeline of sites to reach 30 by spring 2015 before looking to expand nationwide in the next 18 months.

“The market in London is growing and we have not even started growing nationwide yet because we have not yet needed to. We thought if we could keep growing in central London where we know and it’s a lower risk then why venture into cities that are an unknown?” Lilley said.