Chipotle CEO Steve Ells leaves post

  • Push-out Score suggests push-out forces
  • After almost nine years in the position
  • Accolades and praise for Ells
  • Search for a successor
  • Ells will remain as executive chairman at Chipotle
  • Ells spoke at length and said 217 words

(exechange) — Denver, Colorado, November 29, 2017 — Steve Ells, chief executive of Chipotle, leaves. As announced by Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. in a news release on Wednesday, November 29, 2017, M.Steven (Steve) Ells leaves the post as Chief Executive Officer at the fast-food chain after almost nine years in the position.

Among the 3,000 largest publicly held companies incorporated in the U.S. based on market capitalization, the average tenure of the CEOs who departed over the past twelve months was 8.8 years, according to data compiled by exechange.

Chipotle will undertake a search for a successor.

“Improve execution, build customer trust, and drive sales”

Ells’ departure from the post of CEO is explained as follows. Chipotle said in a fairly blunt statement: “The Board has formed a search committee comprised of Directors Robin Hickenlooper and Ali Namvar, as well as Ells, to identify a new leader with demonstrated turnaround expertise to help address the challenges facing the company, improve execution, build customer trust, and drive sales.”

Ells will remain as executive chairman at Chipotle

“Steve Ells, chairman and CEO – and the founder of the company in 1993 – will become executive chairman following the completion of a search to identify a new CEO,” Chipotle said.

Share price decline

The change follows a sharp decline in the share price of Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. since October 2015.

In the position of CEO since 2009

Ells founded Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. in 1993 and has been its Chief Executive Officer since December 2016 and served as its Co-Chief Executive Officer from January 1, 2009 to December 2016.

He was appointed Chairman of the Board in 2005.

Prior to launching Chipotle, Ells worked for two years at Stars restaurant in San Francisco.

Ells’s vision – that food served fast doesn’t have to be low quality and that delicious food doesn’t have to be expensive – is the foundation on which Chipotle is based.

Ells graduated from the University of Colorado with a Bachelor of Arts degree in art history, and is also a 1990 Culinary Institute of America graduate.


As a general rule, when a top manager announces to step aside with no successor available, it’s a signal that the move was unexpected and too early.

Push-out Score suggests push-out forces

It is not completely certain what forces eventually triggered Steve Ells’ move.

The Push-out Score™ determined by exechange suggests that push-out forces may have contributed to the management change.

Read the full story in the exechange report 49.2017 ($).