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News Briefs for May 17, 2011

May 17, 2011

• Bacardi has tapped a new ad agency of record for its flagship rum—New York’s Johannes Leonardo. Bacardi rum’s previous agency of record, Young & Rubicam, had held the account for six years before Bacardi initiated a review of its advertising earlier this spring.

• Darden Restaurants Inc has reorganized the leadership of its Red Lobster and Olive Garden brands. Effective May 30, Red Lobster president Kim Lopdrup will become senior vice president of business development for Darden. The current president of Olive Garden, Dave Pickens, will now become president of Red Lobster. Meanwhile, Darden’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer John Caron will replace Pickens as Olive Garden president. JJ Buettgen, Darden’s senior vice president of business development, will replace Caron.

• Restaurant operator O’Charley’s Inc. showed positive growth in sales and guest counts at all three of its brands in the first quarter ended April 17—its first such quarterly growth in five years. The Nashville, Tennessee-based company owns and operates the O’Charley’s, Ninety-Nine Restaurants and Stoney River Legendary Steaks concepts. Guest counts and sales at O’Charley’s rose 0.4% and 0.9% respectively, while growth in those categories was 3.1% and 0.9% at Ninety-Nine Restaurants and 8.4% and 13.9% at Stoney River. Total quarter revenue declined by 0.8% to $265 million as a 1.5% increase in comparable restaurant sales was offset by a 2.2% decrease in sales from restaurant closures in the prior year. Income from operations was $5.3 million, compared to $3.2 million in the year-earlier period.

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