Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE:DRI) Q1 2021 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript

Sep 24, 2020 • 08:30 am ET


Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE:DRI) Q1 2021 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript


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Hello, and welcome to Darden's Fiscal Year 2021 First Quarter Earnings Call. [Operator Instructions]

I will now turn the call over to Mr. Kevin Kalicak. Thank you. You may begin. Thank you so much.

Kevin Kalicak

Thank you, Marcella. Good morning, everyone, and thank you for participating on today's call. Joining me on the call today are Gene Lee, Darden's CEO; and Rick Cardenas, CFO.

As a reminder, comments made during this call will include forward-looking statements as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from our expectations and projections. Those risks are described in the company's press release, which was distributed this morning and in its filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

We are simultaneously broadcasting a presentation during this call, which is posted in the Investor Relations section of our website at darden.com. Today's discussion and presentation includes certain non-GAAP measurements, and reconciliations of these measurements are included in the presentation. We plan to release fiscal 2021 second quarter earnings on December 18 before the market opens followed by a conference call.

This morning, Gene will share some brief remarks about our quarterly performance and business highlights. And then Rick will provide more detail on our financial results and share our outlook for the second quarter. As a reminder, all references to the industry benchmark during today's call refer to estimated Knapp-Track, excluding Darden, specifically, Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse. During our first fiscal quarter, industry same restaurant sales decreased 26%.

Now I'll turn the call over to Gene.

Gene Lee

Thank you, Kevin, and good morning, everyone. Given the ever-changing environment we continue to operate in, I am very pleased with what we accomplished during the quarter. We are focused on four key priorities. The health and safety of our team members and guests, in restaurant execution in a complex operating environment, investing in and deploying technology to improve the guest experience and transforming our business model. The progress we made in these areas combined with our operating results, gave us the confidence to repay the $270 million term loan and reinstate a quarterly dividend.

Let me provide more detail on the four priorities. First, the health and safety of our team members and guests remains our top priority. Following CDC guidelines and local requirements, our teams continue to practice our enhanced safety protocols, including daily team member health monitoring. We also continue to configure our dining rooms with social distancing that create a safe, welcoming environment, while maximizing allowable capacity. A key part of this work is installing booth partitions to enable us to safely increase capacity where permissible. At the end of August, we had completed installation in just over 500 restaurants in our total portfolio. Operating in this environment adds another layer of complexity to an already complex operation, and I'm proud of the commitment our teams make every day to keep our guests and each others safe.