Red Lobster owner expects to sell its share of the chain this year – Restaurant Business Online

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Red Lobster restaurant exterior

Thai Union chose to divest from Red Lobster in January. | Photo: Shutterstock

Red Lobster’s owner is getting closer to offloading its stake in the chain.

Thai Union Group, which owns 49% of the struggling full-service seafood chain, said in a financial filing Wednesday that it is “actively engaged” in negotiations with potential buyers for its share of the chain and expects a deal to get done this year.

The Bangkok-based seafood conglomerate in January said it was exiting its investment in Red Lobster after the chain lost more than $22 million in 2023. 

It took a $530 million write-down on the investment and began preparing for a sale of its stake, but noted that it was not expecting to get much for it.

Thai Union first invested in the brand in 2016 and increased its stake in 2020, joining a group of restaurateurs and Red Lobster management to buy out former owner Gold Gate Capital.

Red Lobster is also reportedly considering a bankruptcy filing. In March, it hired restructuring expert Jonathan Tibus as its new CEO. 

The 649-unit chain has been struggling on several fronts. Sales declined 8% last year, according to data from Technomic, and it closed more than a dozen restaurants. Efforts by Thai Union to boost traffic backfired with a money-losing all-you-can-eat-shrimp promotion last summer. And there has been significant turnover at the corporate level: Tibus is the chain’s fourth CEO in three years.

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