Chipotle looking to hire a new CEO

Chipotle announced Wednesday that it is looking for a new CEO.

Steve Ells. the troubled fast casual chain's founder, chairman and current CEO. will give up the CEO role and become executive chairman once a new CEO is hired to replace him.

Chipotle was once the darling of the restaurant industry, but it has been struggling for the past few years due to an E.coli outbreak that affected numerous restaurants in several states in 2015.

Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared the outbreak over in February 2016, consumers have been slow to come back to the chain.

"I am incredibly proud of Chipotle and our people -- and grateful to our loyal customers -- and while we are continuing to make progress, it is clear that we need to move faster to make improvements," Ells said in a statement.

"Simply put, we need to execute better to ensure our future success," he added.

Chipotle said it has hired executive recruitment firm Spencer Stuart to help with the search.

Shares of Chipotle have plunged nearly 25% this year and remain more than 60% below their all-time high as a result. That's despite the fact that other fast food restaurant chains like McDonald's and Burger King parent Restaurant Brands are thriving.

There's also been a flurry of restaurant mergers this year that have pushed up the prices of most of Chipotle's rivals. Panera, another company that's widely cited as a leader in the fast casual space, was sold to European conglomerate JAB earlier this year.