Hugh Fowler, the founder of Hamburger Union, has been appointed to the helm of Covent Garden Restaurants (CGR). Fowler, who last year sold the lion’s share of Hamburger Union, has joined as managing director, with a key objective of expanding the group’s Fire & Stone pizza concept into a casual-dining chain. In addition to Fire & Stone, CGR, which was acquired by Liberty International last December in a deal valued at between £20m and £25m, operates a clutch of restaurants and bars, mainly in central London, such as Brasserie Palmes d’Or, Dirty Martini and the Rock Garden. Fowler still owns the rights to Hamburger Union although five of its seven sites were sold to the group behind Aberdeen Steak House in December. Two sites were not included in the sale – in Hampstead and Derby. Fowler intends to expand the concept in the Middle East through franchise agreements, a process that will be led by Hamburger Union operations director Colum Muldoon.