Chipotle Founder Steve Ells Steps Down as CEO

Thu. November 30th, 2017 - by Kayla Webb

DENVER, COLORADO – Chipotle Mexican Grill’s Steve Ells has stepped down from his position as CEO after founding the company in 1993. Eater reported that along with missing earnings projections in the third quarter of 2017, the role change for the Denver-based fast-casual food chain has been in the works for a while after multiple food safety issues, subsequent lawsuits, and lower sales for the past couple of years.

Neil Flanzraich, Lead Independent Director of the Board, Chipotle

“Steve is a visionary leader and one of the most successful restauranteurs in history, having grown Chipotle from a single restaurant in Colorado to more than 2,350 restaurants today,” said Chipotle Lead Independent Director Neil W. Flanzraich in a company press release. “Steve made the decision, and the Board agreed, that now is the right time to identify a new CEO who can reinvigorate the brand and help the company achieve its potential. We are committed to recruiting a world-class CEO for this incredible opportunity.”

Chipotle storefront

Searching for a new leader with demonstrated turnaround expertise in order to address the challenges facing the company, improve execution, build customer trust, and drive sales, the Board has formed a search committee that includes Ells and Directors Robin Hickenlooper and Ali Namvar.

Steve Ells, CEO, Chipotle

“I am incredibly proud of Chipotle and our people—and grateful to our loyal customers—and while we are continuing to make progress, it is clear that we need to move faster to make improvements,” said Ells in a company press release. “Simply put, we need to execute better to ensure our future success. The Board and I are committed to bringing in an experienced leader with a passion for driving excellence across every aspect of our business, including the customer experience, operations, marketing, technology, food safety, and training.”

The Denver Post reported that the market is responding positively to the news of the role change, with trading at $274.52 and shares valuing at more than $293—which at their peak in 2015 closed at $757.77.

Along with the leadership change, Chipotle also plans to prioritize its food safety procedures, introduce new menu items, jumpstart its marketing campaigns, and give out lots of free burritos in the upcoming year.

Will a new CEO guide Chipotle back to clear waters as the company plans to expand in 2018? AndNowUKnow will continue to bring you the latest.

Chipotle