Friendly's hires Harsha Agadi as CEO

Former Church's Chicken executive succeeds Ned Lidvall

Friendly Ice Cream Corp. has named industry veteran Harsha V. Agadi chairman and chief executive of the 500-plus-unit family-dining company.

Agadi, who served as president and chief executive of Church’s Chicken in Atlanta until late last year, succeeds president and chief executive Ned R. Lidvall, who left to pursue other interests, the Wilbraham, Mass.-based company said Tuesday. Lidvall joined Friendly’s in 2008.

“Harsha has an outstanding track record of helping classic American brands reach their full potential through tightly focused concept evolution and strategic growth,” said Chris Metz, managing director of Sun Capital Partners Inc., the private-equity firm that owns the 75-year-old Friendly’s.

Agadi, who had joined Church’s in 2005 as chief executive, was credited as having grown sales to more than $1 billion. The 1,700-unit Church’s was acquired in June 2009 by the private-equity firm of Friedman, Fleischer & Lowe. Agadi continues to serve on Church’s board.

Before joining Church’s, he worked for such brands as Pizza Hut, Domino’s and Little Caesars.

“We are confident that [Agadi’s] insight, skills and experience will take the beloved brand to the next level,” Metz said.

Sun Capital, which is based in Boca Raton, Fla., acquired Friendly’s in 2007 for about $337.2 million. The firm also owns Boston Market, Bruegger’s, Souplantation, Sweet Tomatoes, Fazoli’s, Garden Fresh, Restaurants Unlimited, Smokey Bones and Bar Louie.

Friendly’s, which has about 500 units in the United States, generated $634.1 million in foodservice sales in 2009, according Nation’s Restaurant News’ Top 100 census of chains and companies. Sales had declined from $642.1 million in the previous year, according to the NRN Top 100.

Friendly’s Ice Cream also is sold in more than 4,000 retail locations.

Contact Paul Frumkin at [email protected]