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Darden Unveils Leadership Succession Plan

Lee replaces the retiring Madsen as president and COO. 

Drew Madsen, president and chief operating officer of Darden Restaurants (NYSE: DRI), announced his retirement at the end of the company's fiscal second quarter. Gene Lee, who serves as president of Darden's Specialty Restaurant Group, succeeds Madsen effective immediately.

With Lee's appointment, the responsibilities of Kim Lopdrup have been expanded to include leadership of Darden's Specialty Restaurant Group. Lopdrup had been leading the company's new business development initiatives. His background includes serving as president of Red Lobster for seven years.

Madsen joined Darden as executive vice president of marketing of Olive Garden in 1998 and he became the company's COO in 2004. Madsen also stepped down from his position on the Darden board of directors.

Lee joined Darden in 2007 following the acquisition of RARE Hospitality where he had served as president and COO since 2001.