John Barnes, the serial non-executive director, has been appointed chairman of Novus Leisure, the bar and club operator led by Steve Richards.
Barnes, who was most recently chairman of La Tasca Group, has "stepped up" from non-executive director. He is now thought to own a significant equity stake in Novus, which is backed by Cognetas Partners (formerly Electra), the private-equity group.
Barnes, who also held posts at Caffe Nero and Hardys & Hansons prior to their sale, was last year named Aim non-executive director of the year. Richards, who left Spirit Group to lead the £113m management buyout of Novus in October 2005, said: "John has been involved right from the start as a non-executive director, so knows the business well.
"I look forward to drawing on his experience and working more closely with someone with a proven track record of value creation in the leisure sector, as we substantially grow this business."
Former chairman David Hamid stepped down following his appointment as chairman of MFI. He is also operating partner at Merchant Equity Partners, the £1bn Goldman Sachs venture that acquired MFI earlier this year.
Novus operates a clutch of large-scale bars in London, as well as the Tiger Tiger concept.