Clive Schlee has announced he will step down as chief executive of Pret A Manger in September, after a tenure that saw him increase sales tenfold during a period of rampant expansion.
In the past 12 months the CEO, who has been at the helm of the company for more than 15 years, led the introduction of a new allergy plan after Pret A Manger was placed at the centre of legislation changes around ingredient labelling following the death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who suffered an allergic reaction to a baguette purchased from the chain.
In May the company also agreed the purchase of rival chain Eat, which is set to be completed this week with the majority of its 94 sites to be converted to Veggie Prets.
The chain's chief operating officer, Pano Christou, will be promoted to take on the CEO role, with Schlee remaining a non-executive director.
Schlee said: "There is never an easy time to stop being CEO of a wonderful company, but with the completion of our Eat deal tomorrow, and the roll-out of the Pret Allergy Plan, now is a good time for a new CEO to take Pret on the next stage of its journey. I'm really pleased Pano is taking over. He knows our shops through and through and will keep Pret true to the values that have underpinned its success."
Olivier Goudet, Pret chairman, added:"Since 2003, Clive has become the beating heart of Pret, transforming it into a much-loved, leading international brand. While I am sad to see Clive leave as CEO, I am thrilled he has agreed to become a non-executive board director, where he will continue to play a key role in stewarding Pret's people, culture and passion, which are all so integral to its success."