Carluccio’s, the all-day Italian restaurant and deli chain, has appointed Neil Wickers, previously of Gondola Group, as chief executive effective from 23 February 2015 as Simon Kossoff becomes executive chairman.

Co-founder of Carluccio’s Stephen Gee is stepping down as the company’s non-executive chairman and will focus on his other roles within the sector.

Wickers joins the company from PizzaExpress where he has been international managing director, overseeing the brand’s overseas strategy and expansion. He was responsible for increasing the number of sites internationally from 36 to 75, achieving double-digit sales growth. He also re-launched the PizzaExpress grocery business, increasing distribution and doubling EBITDA.

Kossoff has been CEO for the past 15 years since the comapny was founded. He said: “The appointment of a new CEO has been part of our growth plan for some time and strengthens the management team to allow it to significantly develop the business. Neil brings a wealth of international and brand development experience and as such is ideally placed to lead the team as the brand continues to expand internationally and in the UK.”

Wickers said: “I am delighted to be joining the Carluccio’s team. It is a brand I have long admired and I very much look forward to taking the business forward with Simon and the team. It is an exciting time for the brand with the opening of its first site in the States and further UK openings.” 

During his time in the role Kossoff has built a management team that has grown the business to over 100 restaurants in the UK and overseas employing c.3,000.

Carluccio’s first US site is due to open in Washington, DC this year.