Restaurant group Prezzo has appointed Morag Freathy, formerly of Compass, as managing director of its Tex-Mex brand Chimichanga, as the company looks to reposition the 38-strong brand as the leading Mexican dining concept in the UK, MCA has learnt.

Freathy will join the company from Compass Group, where she was managing director for Growth Markets. Previous to that she spent five years as operations director for full-service restaurants at Pizza Hut and eight years with Whitbread Restaurants.

As part of her remit, she will also oversee the trial of the group’s new pilot concept MexiCo, which has been developed by the company in conjunction with US chef and restaurateur Johnny Hernandez and will launch at intu Derby next month.

Freathy will take full responsibility for Chimichanga, including directing its commercial, strategic and operational activities.

She said: “I’m very excited to be leading a team with a brand we will be growing and taking from strength to strength. Whilst there is always a lot to do in a very competitive business, we can lead the way and set ourselves apart from the competition through ‘Wowing’ our customers consistently. Great people, great food and good fun every time and to ‘own’ the Mexican market is what I’m really looking forward to.”

The new MexiCo format will complement the group’s existing Tex-Mex format Chimichanga and feature a more authentic Mexican offer.

Hernandez, who operates a number of award-winning restaurants in the US, recently cooked at the White House for President Obama’s Cinca de Mayo celebration.

Along with an authentic Mexican food menu, the restaurant will serve different varieties of the classic cocktail Margarita as well as a range of tequilas and mezcals.

Last month, Prezzo, which was taken private by TPG Capital last year in a £304m deal, appointed Jon Hendry-Pickup, formerly of Travelodge and Tesco, as its new chief executive.

Hendry-Pickup, who will take up his new role with the 284-strong restaurant group at the end of July, most recently served as chief operating officer at Travelodge and prior to that, as the operations director for Tesco in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

The company, which plans to open a further 20 new sites through its eponymous brand and its Chimichanga Tex-Mex format this year, also recently appointed, Steve Holloway, former partnerships director at Costa UK & Ireland, as its new property director.