Olive Garden responds.
Darden’s presentation totals 24 slides, quite a bit less than the behemoth filed by Starboard, with the company giving an update on its “Renaissance Plan,” as well as responding to a number of the points raised by Starboard.
Darden responds to Starboard’s assertion that its endless salad and breadsticks promotion creates food waste, saying that the promotion, “conveys Italian generosity and our salads have the highest loyal rating of any menu item based on the menu satisfaction surveys we conduct.” (emphasis Darden’s)
Darden also says that the “dishwasher-safe” take-out packaging Starboard took issue with is not, in fact, dishwasher safe. “Our packaging is primarily designed to maintain food quality,” Darden said. “It meets competitive standards, is a more sustainable alternative to Styrofoam, and complies with local waste regulations. It has been specified to be microwavable — but not dishwasher safe.” (again, emphasis Darden’s)
A number of the Olive Garden plans laid out by Starboard Darden says it is already undertaking, with these actions “delivering results,” the company said.
When a hedge fund files a 294-slide presentation on a company, that company is surely not going to go long without comment. Additionally, when a hedge fund files a 294-slide presentation on a company, it is unlikely that the story goes away quickly.
In morning trade on Monday, Darden shares were up 2%.