Darden Announces Brand President and Marketing Leadership Appointments

    Darden Announces Brand President and Marketing Leadership Appointments

PR Newswire

ORLANDO, Fla., Jan. 8, 2013

ORLANDO, Fla., Jan. 8, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE:
DRI) today announced the appointments of new brand presidents at Olive Garden
and LongHorn Steakhouse, as well as a new Chief Marketing Officer. The
following leaders will report to Drew Madsen, Darden's President and Chief
Operating Officer, effective January 14:

  oDave George has been named President of Olive Garden. George was most
    recently the President of LongHorn Steakhouse, a position he held since
    2003. Since the brand joined Darden, he successfully grew LongHorn from
    290 restaurants to a leading national brand with more than 400 restaurants
    today. Prior to joining LongHorn as a Vice President of Operations in
    1998, George served as Vice President of Operations for Tripps
    Restaurants. He began his restaurant career out of college as an
    Assistant Manager with Houlihans, where he spent 12 years and held a
    number of positions with increasing leadership responsibility.
  oValerie Insignares has been promoted to President of LongHorn Steakhouse.
    She moves into her new role after nearly two years as Darden's Chief
    Restaurant Operations Officer, where she was responsible for strategic
    operations initiatives across the enterprise. She previously served as
    Executive Vice President of Operations for Olive Garden for seven years.
    Prior to that, Insignares held numerous roles with increasing leadership
    responsibility from the time she joined Darden in 1997 through 2004.
  oWill Setliff has been promoted to SVP and Chief Marketing Officer for
    Darden, where he will be responsible for strengthening overall marketing
    excellence, elevating marketing innovation to drive long-term growth, and
    directing marketing talent management. With more than 20 years of
    experience, Setliff joined the Company last year as the Specialty
    Restaurant Group's Executive Vice President of Marketing. Prior to
    Darden, Setliff served as Senior Vice President of Marketing for Target.
    In that role, he held responsibility for storewide planning, brand
    marketing, partnerships and licensing, guest insights and store-shelf
    merchandising. Earlier in his tenure at Target, Setliff also had
    responsibility for digital marketing and developing a longer-term
    innovation growth pipeline.

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Commenting on the appointments, Darden's Chairman and CEO Clarence Otis said:
"Dave is the ideal leader to guide Olive Garden in its path forward. He is a
proven restaurateur, and his feel for guests and employees and demonstrated
leadership capabilities will serve Olive Garden well as we seek to improve the
overall guest experience and reclaim the brand's value leadership position.
With Dave moving to Olive Garden, Val is a tremendous fit to lead LongHorn as
we continue to expand it across the country. Her track record of operational
excellence and people leadership will enable her to excel in this new role."

Otis continued: "Our guests are changing and we are changing with them, and
one important area of change is the work we're doing to evolve marketing.
Will's expansive experience in driving successful, cutting-edge consumer
marketing programs provides the perfect background needed to lead our
enterprise-wide efforts."

Drew Madsen added: "Today's announcement reflects the talent bench strength
we have at Darden. We have consistently invested time attracting and
developing top talent across a variety of industries so we can be nimble and
make strategic leadership moves like the ones today. We are thrilled all
three of these leaders have agreed to take on new challenges and help lead our
company."

Darden today also announced that John Caron, most recently President of Olive
Garden, has decided to leave the Company.

Madsen noted: "We thank John for his nearly 10 years of service to Darden.
He played a tremendous role in Olive Garden's growth and helped maintain a
multi-year stretch of same-restaurant sales growth that has put the brand in
the industry-leading position it enjoys today. We wish him well as he begins
the next chapter of his career."

About Darden Restaurants
Darden Restaurants, Inc., (NYSE: DRI), the world's largest full-service
restaurant company, owns and operates more than 2,000 restaurants that
generate over $8.0 billion in annual sales. Headquartered in Orlando, Fla.,
and employing 185,000 people, Darden is recognized for a culture that rewards
caring for and responding to people. In 2012, Darden was named to the FORTUNE
"100 Best Companies to Work For" list for the second year in a row and is the
only full-service restaurant company to ever appear on the list. Our
restaurant brands – Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama
Breeze, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, Eddie V's and Yard House – reflect the
rich diversity of those who dine with us. Our brands are built on deep
insights into what our guests want. For more information, please visit
www.darden.com.

DRI: G

SOURCE Darden Restaurants, Inc.: General

Website: http://www.darden.com
Contact: Media: Rich Jeffers, +1-407-245-4189; Analysts: Matthew Stroud,
+1-407-245-6458
 
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