FINANCE

Darden completes repurchase of $900 million of $1 billion debt retirement

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Orlando, Fla. — Darden Restaurants, Inc., which operates the Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse banners among others, has completed the repurchase of approximately $900 million of the previously announced $1 billion debt retirement, leaving approximately $1.6 billion of debt on its balance sheet.

The remaining $100 million of debt has been called for redemption and is expected to be retired later this month, according to the company, which used after-tax proceeds from its sale of Red Lobster to consummate the debt retirement and to initiate a $500 million accelerated stock buyback program.

With the closing of the debt retirement, the company is affirming its fiscal 2015 outlook.

"The completion of this tender offer further reinforces Darden’s strong financial foundation,” said Chuck Ledsinger, non-executive chairman of the board of Darden. “In addition to the debt reduction, the Red Lobster sale proceeds also enable us to increase our capital return to shareholders and support the company’s current dividend despite the change in our operating structure following the sale."

The Red Lobster sale was completed on July 28.

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Calloway’s Nursery names VP marketing

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Fort Worth, Texas — Calloway’s Nursery has named Alicia Hicks as VP marketing, effective Aug. 5. Hicks formerly served as Calloway’s director of retail marketing.

With her promotion, Hicks will oversee marketing for all aspects of Calloway’s Nursery, which includes 17 Calloway’s Nursery locations in Dallas/Fort Worth, as well as two Cornelius Nursery locations in Houston. She will develop strategic marketing plans and customer experience initiatives for both Calloway’s and Cornelius brands across all retail locations.

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OPERATIONS

Office Depot makes thousands of jobs available to military veterans

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Boca Raton, Fla. — Office Depot, Inc. has amped up its military hiring efforts by teaming with Military.com to provide job opportunities to veterans.

By partnering with the nation’s largest military and veteran membership organization, Office Depot has made thousands of employment opportunities – including openings in supply chain, sales, e-commerce, IT, human resources, marketing and retail – available to military veterans; the jobs are now posted to Military.com’s Veteran Employment Center, where active and retired service personnel can view and apply.

As well, all Office Depot positions posted to the company’s career’s page and to Military.com will connect to Military.com’s ‘Military Skills Translator’ to help veterans find the most appropriate employment positions based on their military specialties and experience.

“The U.S. military is one of the best-trained work forces in the world, and our veterans have numerous skills and values that translate well to the business environment,” said Roland Smith, chairman and CEO, Office Depot.

Smith is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and served in the Army as an aviation maintenance officer and pilot.

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