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Chipotle seeks to replace its founder as CEO

DENVER -- Chipotle Mexican Grill on Wednesday announced that Steve Ells, chairman, CEO and founder of the company, will become executive chairman following the completion of a search to identify a new CEO.

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Photo by ccPixs.com.

DENVER - Chipotle Mexican Grill on Wednesday announced that Steve Ells, chairman, CEO and founder of the company, will become executive chairman following the completion of a search to identify a new CEO.

Chipotle grew from a single restaurant in Colorado in 1993 to a franchise of more than 2,350 restaurants. The chain features a menu of burritos, tacos, burrito bowls and salads, which the restaurant says are “made from fresh, high-quality raw ingredients, prepared using classic cooking methods and served in an interactive style allowing people to get exactly what they want.” Chipotle prides itself on using fresh ingredients “that are raised responsibly, with respect for the animals, land and people who produce them.”

Chipotle’s tactics, however, haven’t endeared them to many in agriculture. The company has produced ad campaigns satirizing modern agriculture , portraying animal agriculture as abusive to animals and mischaracterizing the use of antibiotics in livestock .

In the past several years, the chain also has dealt with repeated problems with food-borne illnesses and a troubling response to them .

Chipotle stock reached a high of $749.12 on July 27, 2015. It dropped below $500 in 2016 and has remained below that mark since then. Stock in the company closed at $304.39 on Thursday .

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Ells is on the search committee to find his replacement, along with directors Robin Hickenlooper and Ali Namvar. A release from the company says they hope to find “a new leader with demonstrated turnaround expertise to help address the challenges facing the company, improve execution, build customer trust and drive sales.” The board has retained the services of leading executive recruitment firm Spencer Stuart to assist in the search for a new CEO.

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