Bloomin' Brands CEO Dave Deno is retiring

Deno has spent 12 years with the Outback Steakhouse owner including the past five as CEO. The company's board is searching for his replacement.
Outback's sales have grown under Deno but have slowed recently. | Photo: Shutterstock

Bloomin' Brands CEO Dave Deno is retiring after 12 years with the Outback Steakhouse parent, the company announced Tuesday. 

He'll remain in the position while Bloomin's board of directors searches for his replacement. 

The 66-year-old joined Bloomin' in 2012 as EVP and CFO. He became CEO and joined the board in 2019.

Since 2018, Outback's U.S. sales have risen 8.4%, according to Technomic data. But growth has slowed more recently. In the first quarter of this year, same-store sales fell 1.2% at Outback, Bloomin' reported Tuesday, and 1.6% across the company's four brands. Bloomin' is facing pressure from activist investor Starboard Value to make changes at its restaurants.

“David has strengthened the financial foundation at Bloomin’ Brands through better profitability and a stronger balance sheet, which is especially impressive given nearly half of his CEO tenure was during COVID,” said Bloomin' Chairman Michael Mohan in a statement. “He is also credited with optimizing our international presence, especially in Brazil.”

Mohan added that conversations about the transition began last year "as a normal course of succession planning."

Deno has spent more than 40 years in the restaurant industry, starting in 1983, when he joined Burger King's finance department. He then spent more than six years with Pizza Hut, nearly a decade at Yum Brands and a short stint as COO of Quiznos before taking a detour into retail as president of Asia and CFO of international at Blockbuster. 

He returned to restaurants as COO of Bloomin' with plans to stay at the company for five years, he told investors Tuesday. But the opportunity to become CEO, followed by the pandemic, changed that plan.

“It has been an honor to lead this great company of restaurants,” said Deno in a statement. “I was very fortunate to be offered an opportunity to work in this dynamic and rewarding industry. I have enjoyed the challenge and thank all of those along the way who helped guide my career. I love this company and plan to stay until we find our next CEO.”

Bloomin' also owns Bonefish Grill, Carrabba's Italian Grill and Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar.

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