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Chipotle founder Steve Ells steps down from board, CEO Niccol adds chairman title

Brian Niccol, CEO of Chipotle Mexican Grill

Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Chipotle Mexican Grill founder Steve Ells has stepped down from the chain’s board and relinquished his title of executive chairman after current CEO Brian Niccol was named chairman.

“Brian has proven that he is absolutely the right person to lead Chipotle forward and I’ve never been more confident about the future of this great company,” Ells said in a statement. “I am especially grateful to the employees and our valued customers over the last 27 years who helped make Chipotle the unmatched brand in fast casual dining it is today.”

Ells served as chief executive of Chipotle until November 2017. He founded the burrito chain in 1993, opening the first location near the University of Denver campus and growing it to more than 2,000 locations.

Niccol became Chipotle’s CEO in early March. Under his leadership, the restaurant has seen its sales rebound and its stock price reach all-time highs. 

Chipotle also announced Friday that Matthew Paull and Paul Cappuccio will not stand for re-election to the board at the company’s annual shareholder meeting. 

Chipotle shares were down more than 2% in premarket trading, against a backdrop of widespread selling. 

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

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