Nov. 29 (UPI) -- Chipotle Mexican Grill's stock price rallied on Wednesday after founder Steve Ellis announced he will step down from his CEO position.
The stock gained as much as 5.4 percent in early Wednesday trading, its biggest one-day gain since April. It was down 24 percent this year.
"Steve made the decision, and the board agreed, that now is the right time to identify a new CEO who can reinvigorate the brand and help the company achieve its potential," said Chipotle director Neil Flanzraich.
The restaurant has struggled since a 2015 E. coli outbreak at several of its 2,350 locations sickened customers and caused negative publicity. Problems continued as norovirus and salmonella infected customers and a viral video of mice seen at a Dallas restaurant also slowed Chipotle's recovery. The company, which emphasizes fresh ingredients in its products, was also without an operations manager while Chipotle's food safety protocols were criticized.
Further compounding those difficulties, Mark Crumpacker, one of the company's top four executives, was arrested in 2016 on cocaine charges, and returned to work after completing a rehabilitation program.
Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management, Chipotle's largest investor, said he is supportive of the change in leadership.
"We remain as excited as ever about the future of the company," the firm told Bloomberg News.
The company has not yet named a successor to Ellis.