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Red Lobster CEO Resigns After Only 8 Months

CEO Kelli Valade is resigning from her position, effective April 15.

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Something might smell fishy about this one — and it could signal trouble ahead for one of America's most beloved restaurant chains.

Alexi Rosenfeld | Getty Images

Red Lobster announced this week that CEO Kelli Valade is resigning from her position with the company after a mere 8 months of employment. Her resignation will go into effect on April 15.

"Red Lobster is a beloved, iconic brand with a loyal guest following and incredibly smart and talented employees. 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," Valade said in a company statement. "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."

Related: Struggling Red Lobster to Split From Parent Company

The company nor Valade gave any further information as to the reason for her departure.

Red Lobster said that there is no immediate decision being made on who will replace Valade, but Board Member Paul Kenny will work as a "liaison" between the Board and Red Lobster's executive team during the transition period.

Valade became CEO in August of 2021, as the brand struggled to bounce back from pandemic-related closures and food shortages, a difficult task in an attempt to get the chain back on track.

One restaurant analyst, John Gordon, says that Valade's swift departure amid a year positioned for post-pandemic growth could signal major trouble ahead for the chain.

"No CEO anywhere wants to be on board a company only eight months," Gordon said to the Orlando Sentinel. "That says it all. That is an indicator of severe stress and malfunction that you can only stay on a job eight months before some sort of irreparable break occurs."

Red Lobster, which is headquartered in Orlando, was sold from Golden Gtate Capital at the end of last summer to a group of shareholders including one major seafood supplier named Thai Union PCL, who has owned stock in the chain since 2016.

Red Lobster was previously a part of Darden Restaurants before being sold in 2014.

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