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Outback parent Bloomin' Brands Inc. names R. Michael Mohan to succeed Jim Craigie as board chair and appoints technology leader Rohit Lal to board seat.

In Bloomin’ Brands board changes, Outback Steakhouse parent names Michael Mohan chair

Casual-dining restaurant company also installs technology leader Rohit Lal amid Starboard activism; chair Jim Craigie retires

Less than two weeks after activist investor Starboard Value announced a stake in Outback Steakhouse parent Bloomin’ Brands Inc., the company has made several board changes.

The Tampa, Fla.-based casual-dining company said Monday that R. Michael Mohan, who has served as a Bloomin’ director since 2017, was named chairman of the board and Rohit Lal, who serves as executive vice president and chief information officer for Atlanta-based Saia Inc., had joined the company as a director.

Mohan succeeds Jim Craigie, who has retired as chairman and as a director after 10 years of service to Bloomin’ Brands.

The company said the appointments were part of its “ongoing board refreshment and succession planning, and its commitment to good corporate governance.”

Earlier in August, it was reported that activist investor Starboard Value had taken a more than 5% stake in Bloomin’ shares. The stake made Starboard one of the company’s top five shareholders.

Starboard in a 2014 shareholder coup took control of Darden Restaurants Inc.’s board. In 2019, Starboard invested $200 million in Papa John’s and placed its executives on the board amid the pizza chain’s tumult with founder John Schnatter.

Mohan, in a statement, said: “I look forward to continuing to work closely with my fellow directors and the leadership team in supporting the company’s initiatives to elevate the customer experience, deliver sustainable sales and profit growth, and drive shareholder value.”

Mohan thanked Craigie for his service. “On behalf of the entire board, I am grateful to Jim for his leadership and many valuable contributions to Bloomin’ Brands over the past decade,” he said.

David Deno, Bloomin’ Brands CEO, said Lal’s appointment to the board will assist the company’s digital transformation.

“We look forward to his insights and expertise as we continue to drive strategies that maximize customer-facing experiences,” Deno said. “I would also like to express my sincere appreciation for Jim’s guidance and commitment and welcome Mike as our new board chairman.”

The company said Lal “brings experience in designing and implementing solutions focused on customer satisfaction, productivity, and asset utilization.” Prior to Saia, Lal held the role of director for enterprise architecture for CONA Services, a technology shared-services company owned by the 11 largest Coca-Cola bottlers in North America.

Mohan added, “Rohit’s expertise in the areas of digital, supply-chain logistics and cybersecurity complements our current board composition. All three areas play a pivotal role in growing our dynamic brands, and we are excited to benefit from his additional perspectives.”

Mohan serves as chairman of Bloomin’ Brands’ compensation committee and is a member of the nominating and corporate governance committee. He served as president and chief operating officer and in various other executive roles in merchandising and marketing during his nearly 18-year tenure at Best Buy Co. Inc.

Bloomin' Brands has more than 1,450 restaurants in 47 states, U.S. territories and 13 countries. It owns the Outback, Carrabba's Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar brands. The company also owns eight fast-casual Aussie Grill by Outback locations in Florida and more than 75 Aussie Grill virtual kitchens in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, and New Mexico.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on X: @RonRuggless

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