Domino's suffers after boss resigns

Domino's Pizza saw shares come under pressure after its chief executive announced plans to leave the fast food firm.

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Lance external shot

Domino's Pizza saw shares come under pressure after its chief executive announced plans to leave the fast food firm.

Lance Batchelor is stepping down to join an unnamed private equity-backed company, but will remain with the group until the end of April.

The group's shares plunged as much as 9% at one stage as the announcement came as a blow to investors after Mr Batchelor has helped drive impressive sales and results at the firm.

Stephen Hemsley, chairman of Domino's Pizza, 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."

Mr Batchelor joined Domino's as a non-executive in 2010 and was appointed chief executive at the end of 2011.

The group posted a 10.3% hike in underlying half-year profits and has succeeded in driving a sharp rise in online sales, which now account for 62.4% of UK deliveries.

Sahill Shan, analyst at N+1 Singer, said Mr Batchelor's departure was "not good news" as Domino's also beds in a new finance boss.

It has recently hired Sean Wilkins as chief financial officer designate to replace Lee Ginsberg, who is retiring at the group's AGM next year.

Mr Shan added the change at the top "creates further uncertainty" amid reports that Domino's is slowing the pace of its UK expansion plans.

Domino's is also grappling with troubles at its fledgling operation in Germany, where it has 25 outlets, after admitting earlier this year the division would not break even until 2016 or 2017 after it decided to proceed more cautiously with its plans.

The Domino's business in Europe, which is separate from its counterpart in the US, has 833 outlets including 746 in the UK.