Pizza Express has named former Morrisons commercial director Richard Hodgson as its new chief executive.

Hodgson (pictured) has 20 years’ experience in grocery, having worked at Asda and Waitrose, where he developed the Essentials range. He joined Morrisons in 2010, before leaving in November 2012 after being ousted by boss Dalton Philips.

Harvey Smyth, chief executive of Pizza Express parent group Gondola Holdings, said: “Richard brings exceptional experience in the food industry to Pizza Express at a very exciting time in the business’s development. During his highly successful career, Richard has developed a deep understanding of brand, quality and value, all of which are fundamental to Pizza Express’s future success.”

Founded in 1965, Pizza Express has 420 restaurants in the UK and abroad. It operates in 12 countries worldwide.

Its range of supermarket pizzas recently broke into the top 100 in The Grocer’s biggest brands list.