PizzaExpress managing director Zoe Bowley is to step down from the restaurant group after 12 years to pursue a "next chapter".
Bowley, a former operations director at Café Rouge, joined PizzaExpress in 2010 in the same role where she oversaw more than 400 restaurants.
She was appointed managing director in 2017 and helped steer the business through the pandemic, which it entered with a heavy debt burden.
Pizza Express chief executive Paula MacKenzie, who joined the chain last June, said: "After 12 years, Zoe has decided this is the right time to leave PizzaExpress and, following a well-deserved break, pursue her next chapter.
"During her time Zoe has led the business through monumental change – most notably the pandemic, always championing the operations team. Zoe leaves with our best wishes and thanks from the entire PizzaExpress team."
It is understood no firm replacement has been found for Bowley's role, but property director Clive Bentley and international and channels director Christ Holmes will now report to MacKenzie.
Bowley said: "I'm incredibly proud of my time at PizzaExpress and over the past 12 years, it has been a true privilege to see the brand and so many people in the organisation grow. This is a brilliant brand and omnichannel business and I look forward to seeing it go from strength-to-strength."
PizzaExpress cut around 2,400 UK jobs and permanently closed 73 restaurants in 2020. However, in 2021 the chain said it was aiming to open 50 new sites within three years and refurbish hundreds of locations after sales bounced back.
The casual dining chain was founded in London's Soho in 1965 and now has over 360 restaurants in the UK and Ireland, and more than 400 worldwide.