Guzman y Gomez (GYG) founder Steven Marks is stepping down as CEO of the Mexican food chain in a shock move that he says is aimed at facilitating the company’s global expansion plans and pave the way to a potential initial public offering (IPO).
Marks, who has grown GYG from a single store in Sydney’s Newtown in 2006 to 170 stores with a growing international footprint, has announced he will remain in the role while the private equity-backed group conducts a global search for his replacement.
“Steven informed shareholders and staff of his decision which was met with the team’s full support,” says GYG in a statement.
“Steven will remain involved in the business focusing on brand and food. The search for a new CEO has just begun and is expected to take as long as needed to find the right candidate who understands GYG’s passion for food, embodies GYG’s culture and has a similar drive to succeed.”
GYG notes that Marks remains a major shareholder and board member and that his ‘ongoing contribution and leadership will continue to shape the future of GYG, albeit in a different role, to continue to help drive GYG’s enviable company culture and growth’.
The move comes as the company is reported to be heading towards $700 million in revenue this year and $1 billion in turnover by 2025 following an international expansion that has taken the brand to the US, Singapore and Japan.
GYG says Marks’s resignation as CEO will give him a ‘well-earned step back from running day-to-day operations of the business’ and prepare the company for the next phase of growth which is likely to include a public share offering.
“Many people know that it’s always been my dream for GYG to IPO and, whenever that happens, I want to ensure I have a world-class and experienced team in place to lead GYG well into the future,” Marks says.
“This is simply the next phase in GYG’s evolution as we continue to attack a massive global opportunity of delivering fresh, clean food to the fast-food industry. I could not be more proud that our team are now ready for this challenge.
“I’ve never been more confident in our future and I’m excited to be able to focus on the things I love which are brand and food. I am not leaving the business; I’m just changing the way I help this incredible team.”
The US-born Marks, whose early career included a stint as a short trader for a US-based hedge fund, founded GYG with childhood friend Robert Hazan after moving to Sydney about 20 years ago.
Marks revealed to Business News Australia in 2021 that he ultimately planned to open between 500 and 600 stores in Australia alone to take the competition directly to fast-food majors such as McDonalds.
Even then, the company had ambitions for an IPO but the plan was put on the backburner after Marks sold an 11 per cent stake in the business to Magellan Financial Group (ASX: MFG) for $95.4 million.
Magellan divested its stake in 2022 and current investors include Athletic Adventures, Point King Capital, Aware Super and Hearts and Minds Investments.
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