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The Power List
Elizabeth Smith Bloomin' Brands The Power List 2018 Bloomin’ Brands

The Power List 2018: Elizabeth Smith

The annual NRN Power List is the definitive list of people setting foodservice trends today and shaping them for tomorrow. See the full list >>

The Off-Premise Explorer

Elizabeth Smith has served as CEO of Tampa, Fla.-based Bloomin’ Brands Inc. since 2009, leading the group of four casual-dining concepts that includes Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar. Prior to Bloomin’, Smith served as president of Avon Products Inc. and in roles at Kraft Foods Inc.

Known For: With more than 1,500 restaurants under the Bloomin’ Brands umbrella, Smith’s efforts to adapt to the changing consumer landscape have drawn significant attention from competitors and brands outside the casual-dining segment. The company now has delivery in at least 246 restaurants and is working to ensure that food is delivered within 30 to 40 minutes. “We’re going to go slow to go fast,” Smith said, adding that delivery orders tend to be larger than other orders.

Power move: Bloomin’ Brands Inc. this past fall opened a takeout-only location in Hollywood, Fla., co-branded as both Outback Steakhouse and Carrabba’s Italian Grill. Bloomin’ Brands planned to open another three to four such locations. The company said will use what it learns from the express units to guide its off-premise strategy. Smith said takeout and delivery could reach 25 percent of total sales.

What’s next: Bloomin’ has drawn the scrutiny of activist investor Jana Partners, which in November said it owned nearly 8 million shares, or about 9 percent of the company. Earlier in the year, Jana targeted Whole Foods before it sold to Amazon Inc. At Bloomin’, Jana said in filings that it would be discussing various topics with management, “including a review of strategic alternatives, including exploring a sale” of the company. Smith, however, said in a November analyst call: “We have a tightly edited portfolio of brands.”

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