Peel back the layers of this restaurateur and you'll find more than a bloomin' steakhouse. OSI Restaurant Partners is the #2 casual-dining company in terms of revenue (behind Darden Restaurants) with about 1,450 locations in the US and more than 20 other countries. Its flagship Outback Steakhouse chain boasts about 970 outposts offering steak, chicken, and seafood in Australian-themed surroundings. OSI Restaurants also operates the Carrabba's Italian Grill chain, along with Bonefish Grill and Fleming's Prime Steakhouse. Kangaroo Holdings, a group including co-founders Chris Sullivan and Bob Basham and private equity firm Bain Capital, owns the company.
Shell company Bloomin' Brands operates through OSI Restaurants and owns about 1,300 restaurants in the US and 20 other countries including Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba's Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill, Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, and Roy's. About half are Outback Steakhouses and all except Fleming's and Roy's are casual, full-service restaurants.
Bloomin' Brands was formed back in 1987 and filed to go public in 2012. Pre-IPO, Bain Capital owns about 66% of Bloomin' Brands. The company will use its anticipated $300 million in IPO proceeds to pay down debt, about $248 million, and for general corporate purposes. Going forward, the company intends to grow sales by remodeling restaurants, introducing new menu items, and improving traffic. It also plans to expand Bonefish Grill and Carrabba's domestically while pushing Outback Steakhouse in existing markets (Hong Kong, Brazil, South Korea) and new ones (China, Mexico).
OSI Restaurants has developed along the same lines as other multi-concept dining businesses, using its restaurant concepts to target different segments of the market. Outback Steakhouse and Carrabba's are designed to appeal to the casual steak and Italian dining segments, respectively, and compete against other moderately-priced themed eateries such as Applebee's, Chili's (owned by Brinker International), and T.G.I. Friday's (Carlson Restaurants Worldwide). Bonefish Grill, meanwhile, offers mid-market seafood fare, and Fleming's is a player in the upscale steakhouse sector along with rivals Ruth Chris (Ruth's Hospitality) and Sullivan's (Del Frisco's Restaurant Group).
Typically, OSI Restaurants' flagship concepts have operated at slightly higher price points than their rival casual dining brands, and this left the company hurting more than some other when the economy took a turn for the worse during recent years. The company responded by focusing on efforts to cut operating costs, mostly through negotiations with suppliers and other improvements in its supply chain, as well as through some layoffs and salary freezes to reduce labor costs. To help with top line growth, OSI introduced a new menu of lower-priced items to drive additional traffic to its flagship Outback Steakhouse chain. The company has also been remodeling the interiors of many of its Outback Steakhouse locations to feature a more contemporary expression of the Australian theme.
In addition to those restructuring moves, OSI Restaurants has trimmed its brand estate by selling some of its developing chains. The company sold the Cheeseburger in Paradise concept in 2009 for $2 million to a group led by that brand's president, Steve Overholt. The gourmet burger chain had grown to almost 40 locations. At the end of the previous year, OSI Restaurants sold a majority stake in its Lee Roy Selmon's business to co-founders Sullivan and Bob. A Southern-style comfort food concept, Lee Roy Selmon's had a half-dozen units. OSI Restaurants continues to eye a possible sale of Roy's, an upscale chain offering Hawaiian-inspired dishes created by chef Roy Yamaguchi.
Leading the company's turnaround plans is Elizabeth Smith, who replaced Bill Allen as CEO in 2009. Previously an executive at both Avon Products and Kraft Foods, Smith plans to improve OSI Restaurants by redeveloping its flagship chains and changing the way those brands are marketed. The company is renovating and updating many of its existing locations while developing new menu items designed to appeal to both cost-conscious and health-conscious consumers. With her appointment, Smith became not only the the first woman to lead OSI Restaurants but also the first outsider. Allen had been promoted from division president to take over from founders Sullivan and Basham in 2005. – less