TGI Fridays Strives for Relevance in Post-COVID Environment

TGI Fridays has 58 years’ worth of history, and that’s a blessing and a curse, says newly named CEO Brandon Coleman. “Depending on which point in time you last visited a Fridays, you may have a different expectation,” Coleman says. “And I think setting that expectation for the guests and making sure that we create a welcoming, fun environment—that’s what we’re all about.”

The 40-year-old restaurant executive was officially named CEO on Tuesday after serving as U.S. president and CMO since October 2022. Coleman’s main objective as the new chief executive is to create relevance that keeps the brand top of mind and drives guests back to the product. He believes TGI Fridays can accomplish this without alienating any core customers, especially since most of its audience is between 20 and 40 years old. There are three specific strategies: partnerships and clear, purposeful communication to consumers; a menu that meets guests’ needs; and more excitement with its bar.

“You may think, ‘Wow, TGI Fridays, sushi, does that fit?’ I think 100 percent. Absolutely,” Coleman says. “If you look at the No. 1 seller of sushi in the United States, it’s Kroger. Sushi is ubiquitous and I think it fits the flavor profiles and offers something different and fresh that we can certainly embrace on our menu and really make a lot out of it.”

TGI Fridays runs and franchises more than 650 locations globally across 52 nations. It appears to be in a better financial place than it was pre-pandemic. In November 2019, Allegro, a special purpose acquisition company, agreed to a $380 merger with TGI Fridays that would’ve made the chain public. The deal fell apart in spring 2020 due to the uncertainty of the COVID pandemic. Prior to the merger, TGI Fridays had worked on several turnaround initiatives, including the hiring of Blanchette, acquiring franchises, replacing directors of operations and general managers, emphasizing the bar, providing differentiated value, growing off-premises business, and rewarding loyalty customers and employees.

In 2014, Carlson Restaurants sold TGI Fridays to TriArtisan and Sentinel Partners for more than $800 million. It has been privately held since merging with Carlson 30 years ago. Last year, the company generated $1.6 billion in total sales and experienced an 8 percent growth in U.S. comparable sales compared to 2019. In September 2022, TGI Fridays announced its largest-ever franchise agreement. This deal aims to establish 75 additional franchised eateries in South and Southeast Asia over the coming decade, contributing an additional $500 million in revenue.

Source: FSR Magazine