Ruth’s Chris names Cheryl Henry CEO Courtesy of Ruth's Chris

Ruth’s Chris names Cheryl Henry CEO

Henry will replace CEO Michael O’Donnell

Ruth’s Hospitality Group Inc. president and COO Cheryl Henry will assume the role of CEO effective Aug. 10, the company said on Monday.

Henry replaces current CEO Michael O’Donnell, who has held the position since 2008. O’Donnell will become executive chairman of the Winter Park, Fla.-based steakhouse operator. Henry, who joined Ruth’s Chris in 2007, will also become a board member.

Over the last 11 years, Henry has run nearly every aspect of Ruth’s Chris’ daily operations, from food and beverage to brand marketing and real estate development. Her success in managing a wide variety of segments within the business “uniquely qualifies her for the position,” O’Donnell said.

"Cheryl’s appointment as chief executive officer is the culmination of a multi-year succession-planning process,” O’Donnell said in a statement. “We are highly confident that her proven leadership abilities, combined with a world-class team and strong business foundation, will continue to create long term value for all our stakeholders."

In a statement, Henry said she was excited to further expand the Ruth’s Chris brand.

“We have the team in place and a winning strategy, so our goal from here is continued operational execution, the centerpiece of which is a strong and positive brand connection with each and every guest," she said.

Henry’s appointment comes as Ruth’s Hospitality recently reported a slip in same-store sales for company-operated and franchised locations. Company-owned same-store sales dropped 1.1 percent for the quarter ended April 1. Franchise locations saw a 0.8-percent decrease in same-store sales.

At the end of the quarter, the company operated 77 restaurants and had 74 franchisee-owned restaurants. The latter is down from 81 units the previous year.

For the quarter, restaurant sales increased 11 percent, to $110.4 million. The company reported net income of $13.6 million, up from $11 million the previous year.

Rob Selati, lead director of Ruth’s Chris’ board, thanked O’Donnell for his decade of service as chairman and CEO. The company did not disclose his reason for leaving.

“Under his watch, the company navigated the financial crisis, emerged stronger and more focused, and ultimately excelled across numerous growth and shareholder value metrics, including a five-fold increase in shareholder value,” Selati said in a statement.

Contact Nancy Luna at [email protected] 

Follow her on Twitter: @FastFoodMaven

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