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Darden restaurants COO Andrew H. Madsen to retire

Staff writer | Orlando, Fla., USA | September 20, 2013
Andrew H. MadsenSeptember 20, 2013, Orlando, Fla., USA - Darden Restaurants, Inc. announced that Andrew H. Madsen, president and chief operating officer, has decided to retire from Darden at the end of the company's fiscal second quarter.
Mr. Madsen has served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Darden Restaurants, and as a member of Darden’s Board of Directors, since November 2004. He has strategic and operational responsibility for Red Lobster, Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse restaurants in North America.

Prior to being named President and COO, Mr. Madsen served as President of Olive Garden from April 2002 until November 2004. He joined Olive Garden in December 1998 as Executive Vice President of Marketing, responsible for the brand management, advertising, culinary and beverage, consumer insights and media relations departments.

Before joining Olive Garden, he was President of International Master Publishers, a company that developed and direct-marketed consumer information products. Prior to his tenure at International Master Publishers, Mr. Madsen worked at James River Corporation, a consumer paper products company (now part of Koch Industries), where he held progressively responsible positions with marketing, sales and operational responsibilities primarily for the Dixie business.

Mr. Madsen began his career in 1980 as a Marketing Assistant at General Mills, Inc. While at General Mills, he worked on a variety of popular consumer food products including Wheaties Cereal and Yoplait Yogurt. His last position at General Mills was Vice President of Marketing. He served on the board of directors of The Talbots, Inc. between 2010 to 2012 and is a member of the Advisory Board of the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.

He graduated magna cum laude from DePauw University with a degree in Economics and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He earned an MBA with Distinction in Marketing from the University of Michigan.

He will be succeeded, effective immediately, by Eugene I. Lee Jr., who currently serves as the President of Darden's Specialty Restaurant Group. Until his retirement, Mr. Madsen will work with Lee and the rest of the Darden leadership team to ensure a seamless transition.

Mr. Lee joined Darden in October 2007 as part of the company’s acquisition of RARE Hospitality International, where he served as President and Chief Operating Officer. He had been with RARE since January 1997, serving initially as Executive Vice President of Operations for its Bugaboo Creek Steakhouse concept.

He became Executive Vice President of Operations for RARE’s LongHorn Steakhouse division in October 1997 and was promoted to COO of RARE the following year. In 2001, he was named President of RARE and elected to its Board of r. Lee’s 20-plus years of restaurant operating experience includes two years as Senior Vice President of Operations for Uno Restaurant Corp. and several management positions with York Steak House Systems. He earned an MBA from Suffolk University in Boston.

With Mr. Lee's appointment, the responsibilities of Kim Lopdrup, who has been leading the company's New Business Development initiatives, have been expanded to include leadership of Darden's Specialty Restaurant Group.

Prior to his current role, Mr. Lopdrup served for seven years as President of Red Lobster, leading the brand as it made significant progress in guest satisfaction and profitability.