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Steve King to step down as Dave & Buster's CEO

Longtime CFO Brian Jenkins will assume the top post this summer.
Dave & Buster's

Dave & Buster’s CEO Steve King will relinquish his position on Aug. 5 to longtime CFO Brian Jenkins, the food and games chain announced late Monday.

King, who has led the concept since 2006, will remain chairman, but termed his departure a retirement. “ After almost 35 years in the hospitality industry, I am looking forward to retirement and spending more time with my wife and family,” King said in a statement.

Steve King photo courtesy of Dave & Buster's

During King’s tenure, Dave & Buster’s doubled in size and revenues. He took the concept public for a second time in 2014.

The leadership change comes as Dave & Buster’s struggles to pull out of a sales slide. Simultaneous with the announcement of a CEO change, the company posted a 4.9% slide in same-store sales for the quarter ended May 6. Net income for the period slipped by 1%, to $42.2 million, on a 9.2% increase in revenues, to $332.2 million.

The slide has been attributed to weak attractions in the game part of the business, along with increased competition from upstarts like Main Event, a relatively new challenger.

Jenkins has been CFO for nearly the whole time King served as CEO, arriving just nine months afterward. He joined Dave & Buster’s from Six Flags, the amusement park operator. The company said it is commencing a search for Jenkins' replacement as CFO.

Brian Jenkins photo courtesy of Dave & Buster's

The concept has pinned its turnaround hopes on a combination of simplifying its food operations to speed service and adopting virtual reality games in its arcade component.

Dave & Buster’s rolled out a new menu in February with the intention of taking complexity out of the operations. Executives told investors yesterday that previously disclosed plans to test a quick-service-type station within its cavernous stores is on track to begin during the second half of 2018.

King has also spoken of developing an app that enables customers to order and pay ahead for drinks and food, a setup that would allow customers to get back to playing games more quickly.

The concept has been installing remote ordering kiosks to streamline food and beverage service.

For the quarter, amusement sales declined 4% on a comparable year-over-year basis, while food sales dropped 6.7% and beverage intake fell 5%.

The chain is in the process of installing its first VR games. The first will carry the theme of the new “Jurassic Park” movie, which is expected to be a blockbuster this summer. “It's going to present well on our TV spot but also drive some incremental spend,” King told financial analysts during the company’s quarterly conference call.

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