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Darden Changes Leadership at Red Lobster and Olive Garden

The mult-concept chain restaurant operator draws on its internal resources to restructure portions of the company's management team.

Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE: DRI) rotated four senior leadership positions within the company, including new assignments for the leaders of its two largest concepts: Olive Garden and Red Lobster.

  • After seven years as president of Red Lobster, Kim Lopdrup will become senior vice president of business development overseeing Darden's long range growth plans. Lodrup's restaurant industry experience includes working at Allied Domecq and Burger King in international restaurant development, operating within a franchise model, acquisitions and launching new businesses.
  • After more than six years as president of Olive Garden, Dave Pickens will become president of Red Lobster, where he began his career 38 years ago.
  • John Caron, currently Darden's senior vice president and chief marketing officer will become president of Olive Garden. Caron previously served as Olive Garden's executive vice president of marketing for six years. Before joining Darden, Caron was vice president and general manager of beverages for Unilever-Best Foods North America.
  • JJ Buettgen, currently senior vice president of business development, will become Darden's senior vice president and chief marketing officer.

These leadership appointments will take effect early in Darden's new fiscal year which begins May 30, 2011, according to a company release.