Kelli Valade, president of Chili’s Grill & Bar, is leaving the company to become CEO and president of analytics firm TDn2K LLC, and Wyman Roberts, CEO and president of parent Brinker International Inc., will return to head the casual-dining brand, the company announced late Monday.
Valade had served as Chili’s president, succeeding Roberts in the role, since June 2016 after having served as the brand’s chief operating officer since July 2009.
Roberts had served as Chili’s president for seven years before Valade was promoted in to the position at the Dallas-based Brinker, which also owns the Maggiano’s Little Italy casual-dining concept.
“I'm not sure I can find the words to express how extremely proud I am of Kelli and all that she's accomplished," Roberts said in a statement "I've seen firsthand the impact she's made at Brinker and Chili's and now she will help impact the entire industry.”
Dallas-based TDn2K publishes the restaurant industry benchmarking People Report, Black Box Intelligence and White Box Social Intelligence.
“Kelli is the right leader to help us to continue to build a world-class company committed to being a model and a catalyst to help our members balance people, profits and purpose,” said Wally Doolin, co-founder of TDn2K, in a statement.
Before joining Brinker 22 years ago, Valade worked in human resources at Carlson Restaurants Worldwide, then parent to the TGI Fridays casual-dining chain. Prior to her Chili’s COO and president roles Valade served as senior vice president of human resources for Chili’s and On The Border, which Brinker later sold.
“This was an incredibly tough decision to leave a brand that I absolutely love and taught me the power of making people feel special,” Valade said. “I've been honored to be a part of the amazing momentum the Chiliheads have created and can't wait to see what's next for the team.”
Valade said that, in her new TDn2K role, “I look forward to making a larger impact on an industry I absolutely love.” She was named to the NRN Power List earlier this year.
TDn2K co-founder Joni Doolin held the CEO position before Valade’s appointment.
For the fourth quarter ended June 27, Brinker’s net income declined 13.6 percent, to $43.7 million, or $1.01 per share, from $50.6 million, or $1.02 a share, in the prior-year period. Revenues rose 0.8 percent to $817.1 million from $810.7 million in the same quarter last year.
Same-store sales increased 0.6 percent at company-owned U.S. Chili’s units and declined 0.5 percent at franchised domestic units. Chili's international franchise same-store sales declined 2.9 percent in the quarter.
As of June 27, Brinker had 1,634 Chili's and 52 Maggiano’s.
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