The Restaurant Group’s chief executive, Andy McCue, is to leave the company due to “extenuating personal circumstances”.
The owner of Garfunkel’s and Chiquito said Mr McCue will remain with the company until his successor is recruited and it expects to make an announcement about his replacement in “due course”.
Shares in Restaurant Group dropped 11% to 130p on the news.
Mr McCue said the company has “achieved much in a challenging market” in recent years but that the group is “well positioned with the scale, talent and levers to drive profitable growth”.
“While I recognise that this decision is untimely, it is the right one for me and my family. We have a strong team in the business and a clear plan which we are focused on delivering.”
Chairwoman Debbie Hewitt said: “Whilst we are clearly disappointed that he will not be able to provide the long-term leadership for the business, we understand and respect the decision he has made purely on personal grounds.”
During Mr McCue’s tenure at the group he oversaw the £559 million acquisition of restaurant chain Wagamama.
When the Wagamama deal was first announced last October, it raised eyebrows as it came at an increasingly challenging time for the eating-out sector, which is suffering from a slowdown in consumer spending.
Although the acquisition was approved by Restaurant Group investors, there was a significant level of opposition as just under 61% of shareholders supported the deal.
The Wagamama deal formally completed in December, bringing almost 200 branches into the group’s portfolio.
The company said current trading remains in line with expectations and full-year results are due to be announced on March 15.