BJ's agrees to listen to another activist investor

The casual-dining chain will take input from PW Partners on how to boost shareholder value. In exchange, PW will withdraw two board nominees.
BJ's Restaurants exterior
BJ's is facing pressure from two activist investors. | Photo: Shutterstock

Another activist investor has the ear of BJ’s Restaurants.

The 216-unit casual-dining chain Wednesday announced that it has entered into a cooperation agreement with PW Partners, an investment management and advisory firm that owns more than 5% of BJ’s stock.

Under the agreement, BJ’s will take recommendations from PW on issues including cost structure and efficiencies. In exchange, PW will withdraw two board nominees it put forth earlier this month: PW founder and CEO Patrick Walsh and Jeff Crivello, the former CEO of Famous Dave’s parent BBQ Holdings. 

The agreement comes less than a month after another activist, Pleasant Lake Partners, successfully managed to put former Darden CFO Brad Richmond on BJ’s board and create a new board committee focused on improving shareholder value. 

Walsh was a member of BJ’s board from 2014 to 2022 and has also served on the boards of Del Taco and Famous Dave’s. His firm has a history of influencing corporate policy among its holdings, according to a press release.

PW has recommended that BJ’s shrink its board to seven members who would focus solely on boosting shareholder value; cut expenses by $50 million; and buy back $100 million worth of stock. 

“We are pleased to welcome PW Partners’ input and recommendations, and we look forward to working with them as we continue to execute on our initiatives to enhance shareholder value,” said Jerry Deitchle, BJ’s chairman, in a statement. 

Walsh added in a statement that he believes BJ’s has “great potential.”

The investor pressure comes after a year in which BJ’s reported total revenues of $1.3 billion, a 3.8% year-over-year increase; net income of $19.7 million, up from $4.1 million; and adjusted EBITDA of $103.8 million, compared to $77.9 million.

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