TGI Fridays chief executive quits business after 12 years at the helm

Karen Forrester, Chief Executive, TGI Fridays

TGI Fridays faces heading into the final part of the year with a new management team after the departure of four key directors, including chief executive Karen Forrester.

Mrs Forrester, who has spent more than a decade with the business – building it into an operation with 85 sites and a £210m turnover – will leave in December 13, along with the company’s CFO, HR director and operations director.

She is reported to have “suddenly quit” the business after declining to sign a five-year deal with the chain’s private equity owners Electra, leading to the resignations of the other three directors.

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News provider BirminghamLive said the departures come “just weeks before the start of the all-important festive season”.

Mrs Forrester will be replaced at the helm by the former chief executive of Virgin Active gyms Robert Cook. He has a strong background in leisure and hospitality having also served at Hotel-du-Vin, Malmaison, De Vere and MacDonald Hotels.

Mrs Forrester was quoted as saying: “It has been an unbelievable honour and privilege to have led the magnificent TGI Fridays UK family over the last 12 years.

“It was an incredibly hard decision to hang up my stripes, but I’m excited to be handing over to new CEO Robert Cook who will steer the company on the next stage of its epic journey.

“I’m leaving a business which is strong and healthy. In the last few years we’ve opened a raft of new restaurants, welcomed thousands more Friday family members (employees) and served millions of satisfied guests. This year profits and sales have grown and led to some brilliant guest experience scores.”

During her time in the hotseat, Mrs Forrester has overseen a transformation of the business and led the brand’s revival in an incredibly competitive and crowded casual dining space.

She has overseen significant refurbishment projects, a move towards open kitchens and the revamping of its menu offer.

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Andrew Seymour

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