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04/05/2022

Red Lobster on the hunt for a new CEO

Marianne Wilson
Editor-in-Chief
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Red Lobster CEO Kelli Valade is stepping down after a less than a year on the job.

The chief executive of Red Lobster is leaving after less than a year on the job.

The casual-dining chain said that CEO Kelli Valade will resign from her position, effective April 15, and that it will immediately begin a search for a successor. Paul Kenny, a member of Red Lobster's board, will serve as the liaison between the company leadership and board during the transition.

Red Lobster did not give a reason for the departure of Valade, who joined the company as CEO in August 2021 following the retirement of Kim Lopdrup. Prior to Red Lobster, Valade was president and CEO of Black Box Intelligence. Before that, she was with Brinker International for 22 years.

"Red Lobster is a beloved, iconic brand with a loyal guest following and incredibly smart and talented employees," said Valade. "My job as the brand's leader has been to inspire and develop our people, while also leveraging the brand's strengths and finding ways to build on them for even greater success. We've accomplished a lot in a short period of time, including building a great leadership team that alongside the board will carry the business forward to achieve our vision. I have truly loved my time here at Red Lobster. This was an incredibly difficult, but necessary, decision."

In a statement, Red Lobster credited Valade with creating a new strategic framework and go-forward plan for the chain, with a focus on the core guest and the need for value. She also built out the executive team, adding the newly-created roles of CMO and CIO and recruited a new CFO.

"On behalf of the board, we thank Kelli for her service and accomplishments during her tenure as CEO, including navigating through the most recent wave of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Rittirong Boonmechote, board chairman. “She has helped us assemble a talented and highly capable leadership team to lead us forward. We wish Kelli the very best in the future.”

Based in Orlando. Red Lobster has more than 600 locations nationwide.