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Prezzo, the 200-strong Italian casual dining restaurant chain, today announces that Karen Jones, CBE, has joined the company as Executive Chairman. Jones will take full responsibility for overseeing the Prezzo brand, its strategic direction, its organization and the execution of the ongoing Transformation Plan together with Prezzo’s existing leadership team.
Having led Prezzo through a successful CVA process, Jon Hendry Pickup, current Chief Executive, is leaving the company to pursue other opportunities. He will work in partnership with Ms. Jones through April and May to ensure a smooth and comprehensive transition.
Jones brings to Prezzo 30 years of experience in creating, developing, and leading restaurant and pub businesses across the U.K. Currently Founder and Executive Chairman of Food & Fuel, a group of gastropubs and café-bars in London, she was previously Chief Executive Officer of Spirit Group, a TPG Capital-backed pub group. Under Jones’ leadership, Spirit grew organically and through acquisition to a group with over 2,000 pubs and 20,000 employees before being acquired by Punch Taverns in 2006 for £2.7 billion. Prior to this, Jones co-founded Café Rouge, expanding it throughout the UK, creating other concepts such as Dome and floating the company as the Pelican Group plc before selling to Whitbread in 1996.
Commenting on joining Prezzo, Jones said: “I am very much looking forward to building on Prezzo’s proud 18-year heritage to create a group of welcoming Italian restaurants that customers love for their unwavering hospitality and their consistent combination of price, quality and service. Under the stewardship of Jon and the rest of the leadership team, important steps have already been taken to move Prezzo forward. There is now a reshaped estate of excellent sites filled with skillful people ready to create something compelling together. I look forward to working with Jon over the next two months and building upon the progress he and the team have made to date. I am also delighted to be working alongside TPG Capital again. We had a strong partnership at Punch and Spirit and it’s good to have the chance to recreate that.”
On leaving Prezzo, Hendry Pickup said: “I want to thank the entire team at Prezzo for their hard work and support throughout my tenure. Prezzo is in extremely capable hands with Karen and I look forward to watching Prezzo flourish, as I know it will.”
Jones is currently Chancellor of The University of East Anglia, is Chairman of Hawksmoor and Mowgli and is a non-executive director of Firmenich SA in Geneva. She has also held a number of other non-executive directorships throughout her career, including ASOS, Booker plc, Virgin Active, Cofra and Corbin & King Restaurants Ltd. Jones was awarded a CBE in recognition of her services to the hospitality industry in 2006.
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