According to MCA, BigHospitality's sister publication, Ron Lento, who stepped down as director of food & beverages for Whitbread Hotels & Restaurants earlier this year, joins the company in the new role of innovation director; whilst Graham Ford, the former chief executive of Jackson & Rye, will move from director of new format development to executive director, UK operations.
Finally, Marco Reick is to step down as the 74-strong group’s HR director. It is thought that the group is currently seeking a people director to enhance its operational team. The changes come just over a month after Mark Fox, the former managing director of Starbucks UK, joined the company as its new chief executive.
Bill’s has slowed down its openings programme over the last six months, after previously opening c60 sites in three years across the UK under Moretti and Macdonald as joint managing directors.
Moretti had been overseeing the group’s progress as chief operating officer since last November. Lento joined Whitbread in 2012 from Wagamama where he had been head of food & beverage development for over seven years.
At Bill’s, he will take over from MacDonald in overseeing the group’s F&B offer from September.
Ford, who was also previously chief executive of Benito’s Hat, has been working on a smaller coffee/bakery/deli format, which has the working title Little Bill’s, to complement its existing concept.
Fox said: “I am very excited about Ron’s arrival and Graham’s promotion and I am very much looking forward to working with them and the rest of the team in the years ahead. We are at an exciting time in our evolution as a business and we’re more committed than ever to building strong teams to help us continue to evolve and grow.
“Roberto, Scott and Marco have made significant contributions to the growth of the business over recent years for which we are extremely grateful. We part on good terms and I wish them all the very best in their future endeavours. After our humble beginnings in Lewes in 2001 we have a very clear opportunity to double our restaurant count in the coming years as well as bringing the unique Bill’s experience to our customers through other channels and formats. This will open up even more career and business growth opportunities during the years ahead.”
In regards to an exit from the business, backer Caring said at the end of last year that “maybe in a couple of years from now we will be in a position to have a look at that”.
Fox’s appointment was seen as a rallying point for that eventual process. He stepped down as UK managing director and vice president of operations at Starbucks, earlier this year after two years in the role. Prior to that he was chief executive of Pizza Hut UK’s delivery business and a restaurant director at Compass. He brings over 20 years of retail operations and franchise experience to Bill’s.
The group, which is set to open up to 15 sites this year, including the evolved version of its format, has openings lined up in Bournemouth, Canterbury and Chelmsford.