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REPORT: Red Lobster Mulls Bankruptcy To Renegotiate Leases, Cut Labor Costs

Global food chain Red Lobster is in a sea of trouble as it considers a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in a bid to restructure its debt, sources told Bloomberg


Law firm King & Spalding has advised Red Lobster to think over filing for bankruptcy as the seafood titan looks to cut bait on some long-term contracts and reassess a chunk of its leases, Bloomberg reports. A bankruptcy filing would allow the chain to continue operations as it works on a plan to reduce its debt.

The company hasn't made a final decision, sources told the outlet. Red Lobster has had cash flow issues stemming from burdensome leases and hefty labor costs, among a host of other problems. 

The popular restaurant is the latest in a string of chains whose financial issues have forced them to consider or execute debt restructuring and store closures.

Boston Market was down to its last 27 locations as of March, dying a long, slow death marked by lawsuits and a bankruptcy filing, Quartz reported. Lesser-known chain Bagger Dave's, a popular brand in Michigan that once operated 28 stores, has shuttered most of its locations over the past year, TheStreet reported

Red Lobster opened its first restaurant in Lakeland, Florida, in 1968. Its footprint spans 700 locations around the world, according to the company's website

Ownership of the company has swapped hands multiple times in recent years, and it has undergone management changes, Bloomberg reported. Thai Union Group PCL, which took over the company in 2021, wrote down its stake in Red Lobster this year, saying its “capital allocation priorities” no longer aligned with the chain's “ongoing financial requirements.”  

Golden Gate Capital took over the seafood heavyweight from Darden Restaurants via a leveraged buyout in 2014. Thai Union bought Golden Gate's stake in the company in 2020. 

CORRECTION, APRIL 17, 1:30 P.M. CT: This story has been updated to correct the year Golden Gate Capital sold its interest to Thai Union.