Darden Restaurants Inc. today
announced that it plans to spin off its flagship Red Lobster restaurant chain
as part of a comprehensive strategy to address a soft market for casual dining.
"As a separate company, Red Lobster will have greater freedom to pursue
marketing and operating strategies that are more tailored to the needs of those
consumers who fit its core guest profile," the Florida-based company said
in a press
release. Darden said it also plans to suspend expansions of its
Olive Garden restaurants and limit new-unit growth of its LongHorn Steakhouse
restaurants in a move to lower capital spending by at least $100 million
annually. The company said it also plans to forgo acquisitions of additional
brands for the foreseeable future.