Darden Restaurants Reports Fiscal 2021 Third Quarter Results; Announces Team Member Investments; Declares Quarterly Dividend; Authorizes New $500 Million Share Repurchase Program; And Provides Fiscal 2021 Fourth Quarter Outlook.
Statement from Gene Lee, Chairman, and CEO.
It is hard to believe that it has been a year since the pandemic began to impact our business significantly. The strategy we developed six years ago — focused on executing our Back-to-Basics operating philosophy and strengthening our competitive advantages — has provided a strong foundation to help us navigate this period of unprecedented change and uncertainty.
Our people are our greatest competitive advantage, which is why we have invested approximately $200 million since March 2020 in programs benefiting our team members, including Paid Sick Leave, Emergency Pay, and paid time off to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. And today, I am proud to announce two additional investments. First, we are investing approximately $17 million to provide a one-time bonus for our hourly restaurant team members to recognize their hard work and dedication.
Second, while we are proud that, on average, our hourly restaurant team members earn more than $17 per hour today, starting Monday, every hourly restaurant team member will earn at least $10 per hour, which includes tip income — increasing to $11 an hour in January 2022 and $12 an hour in January 2023. Continuing to attract and retain the best talent in the industry will be critical to our success. This commitment further solidifies our position as the employer of choice in full-service dining.
After all, we have been through, our winning strategy, combined with our team members’ resilience and passion, has allowed Darden and our brands to emerge stronger, as evidenced by our solid performance this quarter. Once again, we delivered strong profitability in a constantly changing environment while keeping our guests and team members safe.
NOTE: This is NOT the complete report.