Shares in pizza delivery chain Domino’s came under pressure on Friday after chief executive Lance Batchelor said he was planning to leave next year.
The former head of supermarket group Tesco’s mobile phone arm joined the listed company’s board as a non-executive director in July 2010 and took the helm two years ago, but is departing to join an unnamed private-equity backed firm.
Domino’s chairman Stephen Hemsley said: “Lance has been offered a new role in a significant private equity backed company and as a result has tendered his resignation. His new company operates in a non-competing sector.
“We have begun the process to find a replacement for Lance, who will be with us until 30 April 2014 to help with an orderly handover to his successor. We wish Lance every success in his new role.”
The company’s shares ended the day down 49p, or 9.26 per cent, at 480p as analysts said the change of leadership “creates further uncertainty”.
Sahill Shan, analyst at N+1 Singer, said Batchelor’s departure was “not good news” as Domino’s new finance chief is still settling into his role. The chain recently hired Sean Wilkins as chief financial officer designate to replace Lee Ginsberg, who is retiring at next year’s annual meeting.
Domino’s, which has about 750 stores across the UK, said in October that its total sales jumped 10.4 per cent to £140.9 million during the summer, boosted by a rise in online and mobile orders.
However, the firm’s UK openings target for the full year slipped from 60 to 50 because of changes to its store design. In July, Domino’s said its fledgling operation in Germany, where it has 25 outlets, would not break even until 2016 or 2017.