Denny Marie Post retired on Wednesday as CEO of Red Robin Gourmet Burgers following a challenging year of sales and profitability challenges that sent the company’s stock tumbling.
Pattye Moore, who chairs Red Robin’s board of directors, will be the interim CEO as the company looks for a successor.
“The board intends to move quickly on the search process as the company continues to execute our turnaround plan in this challenging and rapidly evolving casual-dining landscape,” Moore said in a statement.
She said the company would focus on an external candidate “who recognizes the urgency of strengthening and stabilizing our dine-in business as well as the importance of continuing our evolution to an omni-channel brand that can provide customers with exceptional experiences and our craveable food where, when, and how they want it.”
Post came to Red Robin as chief marketing officer in 2011 and became president in 2016 when she succeeded Steve Carley as CEO.
“My years at Red Robin have been by far the most satisfying of my career,” she said in a statement. “We made great strides evolving the brand and have a strategy in place which will ensure Red Robin serves generations of families for years to come.”
But the company’s sales declined considerably over the past year, and its stock price plunged, too.
Red Robin stock has lost more than half of its value over the past year—it traded at $64 a share in April last year. On Wednesday it closed at below $29 a share.
Same-store sales fell 4.5% in the fourth quarter, ending what Post described as a “very challenging sales year” as the company lost dine-in customers crucial to its profitability. The company lost $10.6 million in the quarter. Red Robin operates 570 locations in the U.S. and Canada.
The Greenwood Village, Colo.-based casual-dining chain has turned to refranchising—it plans to sell 100 locations to franchisees—and wants to focus more on service.
The chain over the summer acknowledged that operational changes intended to cut labor costs backfired and cut into the company’s top line.
Moore said that same-store sales early in 2019 have declined 3.6%, due in part to “challenging weather” that hurt sales by 100 to 150 basis points. The sales results were “below our expectations,” she said.
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