O’Charley’s Inc. has named R. Jeffrey Williams, a 10-year company veteran, as its next chief financial officer and treasurer, during a time when the company is aiming to turn around its three brands.
Williams formerly was the Nashville, Tenn.-based company’s chief accounting officer, and has served as interim chief financial officer and treasurer since December 2010.
“I’ve seen the company go through a lot of change,” Williams told Nation’s Restaurant News Thursday. “I feel it is going in the right direction and we can make some headway from a standpoint of earnings and overall growth.”
David Head, O’Charley’s chief executive, was pleased with the board’s pick.
“Jeff is a dedicated professional who has done a great job as O’Charley’s CFO and treasurer on an interim basis,” Head said. “After conducting a comprehensive search of candidates, our board determined that Jeff's 10-year record of accomplishments at O'Charley's and his long-term experience in publicly-traded restaurant companies strongly established him as the ideal individual for this important position.”
Before joining O’Charley’s Inc., Williams was corporate controller for the Krystal Company, a 400-unit quick-service chain based in Chattanooga, Tenn., and director of financial planning and analysis for Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc., the 600-unit casual-dining chain based in Lebanon, Tenn.
Williams will oversee the company’s financial activities, including internal and external reporting, accounting, tax, debt and equity financing, financial analysis, internal audit, investor relations, public relations and budgeting.
He is a certified public accountant and holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Middle Tennessee State University, and an MBA from Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management.
EARLIER: O’Charley’s posts $1.8M profit in 1Q 
O’Charley’s operates or franchises 343 restaurants, 227 under its flagship brand, 106 Ninety Nine restaurants, and 10 Stoney River Legendary Steaks locations.
For the 12-week period ended July 10, O’Charley’s produced its first quarterly revenue increase in nearly four years, with revenue reaching $193.3 million in the second quarter of 2011, 1.2 percent higher than the $190.9 million in revenue for the second quarter of 2010.
Analyst Robert Derrington of Morgan Keegan said in a report Thursday that O’Charley’s progress is clearly apparent.
“With same-store sales on the mend, margins are projected to turn,” Derrington said, “The progress O'Charley's management has made in stabilizing, improving, and recently growing traffic at its three brands has been undeniable.”
Williams said he is also pleased with the turnaround numbers.
“We’ve shown sequential improvement and momentum,” he said.
Williams said the current challenge is to grow the brands and provide value amid a tight economy.
“The continuing issue is balancing our value and promotion presentations to a consumer at a time when you have commodity costs, labor costs and health care costs working against you,” Williams said. “That’s the challenge, the balance, but we all understand we have to make money at the same time.”