General Mills seeking growth, flexibility in decentralization

General Mills seeking growth, flexibility in decentralization – restaurant group

Charles Bernstein

ORLANDO, Fla. — General Mills restaurant group president Joe Lee last week launched a new decentralized plan designed to give each of six diverse restaurant chains “an entrepreneurial spirit to flourish” and “to promote flexibility and future growth within the group.”

(At the same time, it was learned, Lee has been assigned additional responsibilities with General Mills, besides his continued restaurant group responsibilities. He now will attend all corporate directors’ meetings as a special board member and is one of three surviving corporate group executive vice presidents from an original group of nine, thus putting him in line for potential succession to the corporate presidency.)

Lee, who also served a one-year term as National Restaurant Association president through last May, has now established three new autonomous divisions in addition to the Red Lobster division and its Eastern and Western divisions, which will continue to be headed by president William Hattaway at its South Orlando headquarters. Each division will have a president, a general manager for each chain in the division, an operations vice president, a marketing vice president and full support services.

“This new structure will enable each operating organization to capitalize rapidly on emerging opportunities in specific market segments because the focus will be on marketing and operation–the two absolute essentials in this business,” Lee declared. “Most significantly, we will create a noncorporate environment ripe for aggressive entrepreneurs and will be able to concentrate on the pulse of consumer changes.”

In addition, Lee said, more flexibility will be inherent in the structure to permit faster expansion of a chain such as Red Lobster and slower expansion of one such as the Good Earth, as well as cross-fertilization and transfers of people from one chain to another and one division to another.

The new divisions, which emphasize a more coordinated decentralized approach for the restaurants thant he former somewhat cumbersome corporate-oriented structure:

* Restaurant Resources, based in Columbus, Ohio. Ronald Magruder, division president, will continue to head York Steak Houses (and its Choices test offshoot) and Casa Gallardo Mexican dinnerhouses, formerly based in St. Louis. A general manager is likely to be chosen from within each chain.

* Creative Dining, formerly based in Raleigh, N.C., under the recently retired Thad Eure, will be moved to Altamonte Springs just north of Orlando under a division president to be named to head Daryl’s theme restaurants (Creative Dining’s original chain), the Good Earth healthy food restaurants and the Olive Garden Italian restaurants, which are moving into a second test phase in other markets after a successful test of three Orlando area units. George Burkhardt, who succeeded Thad Eure on Eure’s recommendation, continues as Darryl’s general manager.

* A service division, to be based in Orlando’s Central Park area and to provide Red Lobster, Restaurant Resources and Creative Dining with site selection, design, engineering, construction and other support services. Jeff O’Hara, temporarily still president and general manager of the Good Earth, will head the service division. It is considered highly significant in terms of a more streamlined entrepreneurial operation that each of the divisions has its own separate headquarters away from the General Mills restaurant group staff in the downtown Orlando headquarters.

Each division, rather than the General Mills group itself, now will be separately responsible for new concept development.

COPYRIGHT 1984 Reproduced with permission of the copyright holder. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group