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Red Lobster to Update its Ownership

Golden Gate Capital will sell its remaining equity stake in Red Lobster to a consortium of investors. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Those buying out Golden Gate include Thai Union Group PCL; the newly formed Seafood Alliance, an investor group consisting of experienced restaurateurs and hospitality industry executives, and Red Lobster management.

Thai Union is a publicly traded global seafood supplier with an enterprise value of approximately $4 billion. Thai Union's involvement in Red Lobster began with a $575 million investment in 2016, when it also added two representatives to the Red Lobster board of directors.

The new investor group, coming together under a new company named Seafood Alliance, incudes restaurant industry veterans Paul Kenny and Rit Thirakomen. Kenny is the former CEO of Minor Food, a casual dining and quick-service restaurant company that operates more than 2,000 outlets in 27 countries under The Pizza Company, The Coffee Club, Riverside, Thai Express, Benihana, Bonchon, Swensen's, Sizzler, Dairy Queen and Burger King brands in Asia. Thirakomen is the chairman, CEO, and controlling shareholder of MK Restaurant Group, a Thai restaurant chain.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Red Lobster added new preventative steps in accordance with CDC guidelines and government mandates to provide safe experiences for guests and employees alike. As part of these efforts, Red Lobster has introduced touchless delivery and curbside pick-up for To Go orders. The chain updated its menu to include new offerings like its Family Feasts, which serve a family of four. Per a company release, 99% of company-operated Red Lobster locations are open for To Go and delivery, and 88% of dining rooms are open. For guests dining in, Red Lobster offers both single-use paper menus and QR code-enabled menus they read on a mobile device.

“The pandemic has pushed us to rethink the guest experience, and we successfully rolled out new initiatives that allowed us to quickly and safely grow our off-premise sales,” says Kim Lopdrup, CEO of Red Lobster.