Jeff Smith and his hedge fund Starboard Value LP have released a huge 294-slide presentation criticising Olive Garden and its parent company Darden for, among other things, wasting money.
Smith and his analysts think management needs to do something about this.
However, they don’t propose cutting costs with a hatchet. Rather, they go almost item-by-item to reveal where costs can be cut with a surgical knife.
For example, they repeatedly go after the company’s to-go containers.
“The take-out packaging at Olive Garden is specified to be microwave and dishwasher safe,” they write. “These requirements over-engineer packaging and drive up costs significantly without necessarily driving any benefit associated with more foot traffic or increased pricing power on customers.”
Several times throughout the presentation, he references it, calling it the “Cadillac container of the industry.”
He estimates the company is wasting around $US22 million on it.
This container just says everything. It represents everything Olive Garden’s doing wrong.
Even moreso, it represents what Smith and his team are doing right. Hedge fund managers get paid tons of money by clients to do incredible amounts of excellent work. It looks like Starboard’s client are getting their money’s worth.
Here are the three mentions of the best to-go container out there: