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Olive Garden parent Darden shakes up management

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 9, 2013 at 7:26 am •  Published: January 9, 2013

NEW YORK (AP) — Darden Restaurants Inc. is replacing the president of its flagship Olive Garden chain after a new marketing campaign failed to reverse slumping sales.

Dave George, who most recently headed Darden's LongHorn Steakhouse restaurants, will be the new president of Olive Garden effective next Monday. He takes over for John Caron. Darden said Caron is leaving the company after 10 years.

Valerie Insignares, Darden's chief restaurant operations officer, will take over for George as president of LongHorn.

Darden, based in Orlando, Fla., also named Will Setliff as its new chief marketing officer. Setliff was previously vice president of marketing for the company's specialty restaurant group, which includes smaller chains such as The Capital Grille and Bahama Breeze. The previous chief marketing officer, J.J. Buettgen, left in November to become CEO of rival casual dining chain Ruby Tuesday.

The management shakeup comes after Darden said a key revenue figure fell in the latest quarter despite major new ad campaigns for its Olive Garden and Red Lobster chains. Executives said that campaigns didn't emphasize value enough at a time when diners are watching their spending. Like other casual dining chains, Darden is also dealing with the growing popularity of chains such as Chipotle Mexican Grill and Panera Bread that offer food that's a step up from fast-food but not as expensive as a sit-down restaurant.

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