Wagamama chief executive David Campbell is to step down from his role with immediate effect, to be replaced by chief operating officer Jane Holbrook.
Campbell, who joined Wagamama in 2014, will continue to work with the company in an advisory role.
Holbrook joined the group in 2014 as chief financial officer, moving to chief operating officer last year.
She had previously worked for Whitbread and at TDR Capital – where she worked closely with brands including Pizza Express, ASK, Zizzi and GBK – before serving as CFO with groups including Soho House, Caprice Holdings and Novus Leisure.
Sarah Hills remains in her role as UK managing director, while Nick Taylor joins from Travelodge as group finance director.
Chairman Allan Leighton said: “David and I have been discussing the desirability and importance for there to be in place a CEO, who will not only take us through an anticipated exit, but will also remain at the helm for a considerable period of time beyond. In reality this would appear to be a 5-year plus commitment.
“If David was to continue as CEO, the duration of his tenure would extend be far beyond the period he anticipated upon being appointed to the position. In view of this, and after giving the matter careful consideration, David has with typical integrity, decided to step down from the CEO role. I am delighted however that he will remain a special adviser and a shareholder in the company going forward.
“David has done an outstanding job as CEO. Under his leadership Wagamama has outperformed the Peach Tracker for an unprecedented 152 consecutive weeks, has almost doubled EBITDA over four years, has built a foothold in the US, has rebuilt the London estate and has expanded in Europe. No other individual in the company’s history has had such an impact. We owe him a lot.
“Jane knows the business and our people intimately and has our full support and backing to build on David’s legacy. David and Jane have together built the strongest management team in the restaurant industry - coupled with general managers and head chefs who are the envy of all – with this team we will continue with our mission to make Wagamama a truly iconic global brand.”
Holbrook said: “I am delighted to take on the role as CEO of this fast growing international business. In Wagamama we have a category leading business in the UK which is now really building an international presence both in Europe and into the US. We have an exciting journey and future ahead of us.
“I would personally like to thank David for his many years at the helm. His leadership has been inspiring and has helped in establishing wagamama’s current strong position - probably the strongest and healthiest it has ever been in our long 25 year history.
“Together over the last 12 months David and I have, along with other members of the executive team, devised and set out the business’s current growth strategy. It is such an exciting and unique opportunity ahead as we continue growing the business, both domestically and internationally.
“Over the course of my career I have learned that high performance comes from happy teams and strong leadership. My focus will be on providing both, as well as ensuring that our customers have a great experience whenever they spend time with us.”
The news comes a week after the group celebrated its 25th anniversary and in the year during which MCA awarded Campbell the Retailers’ Retailer of the Year.
It also comes amid growing speculation that Duke Street Capital is looking to exit its investment in the chain it acquired in a c£215m deal six years ago.
Campbell has overseen a period of strong sales growth in the brand – with average UK unit sales now standing at £41,800 per week compared to £38,000-a-week for the comparable quarter a year ago and £34,100 two years ago - a sales increase of 22.6% in two years.