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Red Lobster Chief Executive Kim Lopdrup to retire from top post of seafood chain

Outgoing CEO to chair Board of Kalera

The CEO of Red Lobster, Kim Lopdrup, has decided to retire, as he moves on to serve as chairman of Kalera, a hydroponic vertical farming company. He will remain in the chief executive position until a successor is chosen. Executive search firm The Eliot Group is already conducting a search.

Lopdrup is credited with navigating the seafood chain through two turnarounds and the COVID-19 pandemic. The initial turnaround took place when he was president and Red lobster was part of Darden Restaurants (2004-2011). Then, again in 2014, when Red Lobster was purchased by Golden Gate Capital and became independent, and recently through the pandemic.

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Red Lobster is currently owned by a consortium of investors who formed its new parent company, Seafood Alliance, after Golden Gate exited its investment in 2020. The outgoing chief executive has collectively led the chain for 14 years.

Lopdrup, reflecting on his retirement, commented, “The pandemic is finally winding down, and Red Lobster has emerged with the best menu we’ve ever had, vastly-improved off-premise systems, a stronger business model and over 10 million members in our award-winning loyalty program, My Red Lobster Rewards℠. We have great initiatives in the pipeline and a terrific leadership team in place”

After his departure, the seasoned executive will continue serving on the Boards of Wawa, Bob Evans Restaurants and Kalera. He recalled the last 16 months (of COVID) as his greatest challenge at Red Lobster, but is thankful to the organization’s employees, crediting them with overcoming the pandemic.

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“We tripled our off-premise sales and then gradually reopened dining rooms as COVID-19 faded. We have hired about 20,000 employees since the beginning of January,” said Lopdrup.

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