Darden announces job and cost cuts as well as management changes as part of reshaping effort

MarketsAssociated Press

Darden Restaurants Inc. says it is cutting jobs, lowering costs and updating its management team as it tries to reshape itself.

The Orlando, Florida-based company behind the Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse chains said Tuesday that it is eliminating 85 jobs, which includes 60 existing positions and 25 open spots. The changes affect its marketing, development, aviation, external affairs and field operations departments.

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Darden also said that its chief financial officer plans to retire in March after 32 years with the company, among other management changes, and that it will get rid of its company plane.

The moves are expected to save $20 million annually and $10 million in the current fiscal year.

Darden has been trying to adapt as consumers' tastes change and sales dropped at Olive Garden and Red Lobster. It sold Red Lobster for $2.1 billion in May, despite some shareholder criticism of the deal. It announced this summer that its CEO would be stepping down and company named insider Gene Lee as interim CEO in October. It has also swapped out menus and tried several marketing campaigns to attract customers, with mixed results.

Shares added a penny to $55.58 in extended trading.