ORLANDO, FLA. — A consortium comprised of existing investor Thai Union Group PCL and Seafood Alliance, an investor group led by restaurant industry executives, has agreed to purchase the remaining equity stake in Red Lobster Seafood Co. from Golden Gate Capital. Red Lobster will remain headquartered in Orlando and led by Kim Lopdrup, chief executive officer, and the current management team.
Thai Union is a Bangkok-based global seafood supplier and owner of the Chicken of the Sea canned tuna brand. The transaction builds on its previous $575 million strategic investment in Red Lobster. Thai Union also has two representatives to the restaurant company’s board of directors.
Seafood Alliance includes key shareholders Paul Kenny and Rit Thirakomen. Mr. Kenny previously led Minor Food, one of Asia’s largest casual dining and quick-service restaurant companies. Mr. Thirakomen leads MK Restaurant Group, a Thai restaurant chain.
The consortium also includes Red Lobster management.
“We are thrilled to deepen our relationship with Thai Union, a long-term strategic supplier to Red Lobster and an investment partner for the last four years,” Mr. Lopdrup said. “Our organization will also benefit from the tremendous international restaurant and hospitality expertise brought by Seafood Alliance. I want to thank Golden Gate Capital for their unwavering support over the past six years and particularly over the past five months.”
Red Lobster has established preventative steps since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to enhance safety in its restaurants. The company also has introduced touchless delivery and curbside pickup. Nearly all company-operated Red Lobster restaurants are open for to-go and delivery orders, and most of its dining rooms are open and offer single-use paper menus and mobile ordering and payment options.
“I am proud of how our team has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, always putting the safety of our guests and employees first,” Mr. Lodrup said. “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. We are pleased that we have maintained off-premise sales at triple our pre-crisis levels even after reopening the large majority of our dining rooms.”
San Francisco-based private equity firm Golden Gate Capital acquired Red Lobster in 2014 from Olive Garden parent Darden Restaurants, Inc. in a transaction valued at $2.1 billion.
“We have enjoyed a highly successful partnership with Red Lobster and are proud to have worked collaboratively alongside Kim Lopdrup and the management team since 2014, achieving strong returns for our investors,” said Josh Olshansky, a managing director at Golden Gate Capital. “With a strong liquidity position, we know the business is in great hands and look forward to cheering the team on under new ownership.”