Benito's Hat appoints new managing director as founder heads west

Alys Key
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Benito's Hat founder Ben Fordham is leaving for Texas (Source: Benito's Hat Farringdon)

The founder and CEO of London food chain Benito's Hat is handing over the reins to a new managing director as he jets off to try his luck on new projects in America.

Benito's Hat has appointed Michael Pearson as managing director to take over the day-to-day running of the restaurant chain, which this month opens its first non-London outlet in Oxford.

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Pearson is currently operations director at Ping Pon, a Dim Sum restaurant with nine locations in London and turnover of £17m a year.

His appointment comes as founder Ben Fordham steps back to a non-executive director role after nearly ten years at Benito's Hat. He will remain involved with the business but will pursue new opportunities abroad.

Fordham will leave the UK this year to pursue new opportunities in the restaurant sector in Austin, Texas. He told City A.M. that he does not plan to try another Tex-Mex style restaurant in the city.

"I'm not sure how they'd take to a Brit from the home counties coming in and saying this is how we do it!" he said.

He added that he was happy with the business's direction as he steps away.

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"In 2016, we made a couple of mistakes in terms of site selection," he explained. "We lost our way in terms of what we stood for. We did a lot of work this year to improve that and it's been borne out in the numbers, we've had a good year."

The business turned its best profit for several years recently, with more than £200,000 positive swing in underlying earnings

Pearson is set to take over in December.

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