Hodgson, who has worked in the grocery market for the last 20 years, will join Pizza Express at the end of this month where he'll be responsible for overseeing the continuing growth of the 420-strong restaurant chain in the UK and abroad.
Pizza Express, which was founded in 1965 and is Gondola's largest brand, has been overseen by Gondola's chief executive Harvey Smyth since the departure of Steve Easterbrook for Wagamama in August 2012.
He said: "Richard brings exceptional experience in the food industry to Pizza Express at a very exciting time in the business’s development. During his highly successful career, Richard has developed a deep understanding of brand, quality and value, all of which are fundamental to Pizza Express’ future success.”
Hodgson, who worked at Asda for 10 years before joining Waitrose in 2006, was responsible for launching the Essential Waitrose value range and instigated the advertising campaign with Heston Blumenthal and Delia Smith. He most recently was responsible for developing an own-brand range for Morrisons.
He said: “I am delighted to be joining Pizza Express. It is one of the UK’s favourite brands with exciting prospects for the future and I am looking forward to working with the team to drive continued growth both in the UK and internationally.”
Pizza Express now operates in 12 countries, including Cyprus, China and India, where it opened its first site last December. The business plans to open another 200 sites internationally in the next five years as well as add another 200 sites to its UK portfolio.
Meanwhile, former Pizza Express chief executive Easterbrook, who left the company for Wagamama after less than a year in the role, has returned to McDonald's.
Easterbrook, who joined Pizza Express from McDonald's where he was president for Europe, has been appointed executive vice president and global chief brand officer for the fast food chain. He will be based at McDonald's US headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois.
"I'm excited to return to McDonald's and leading a talented team at one of the world's most iconic brands," he said. "I look forward to engaging customers in new brand experiences while driving the business."
Wagamama said it had started the search for a new chief executive to help further its own expansion plans in the UK.