Dave & Buster’s announced Tuesday that CEO Brian Jenkins will retire at the end of the month.
Kevin Sheehan, chair of Dave & Buster’s Board of Directors, will serve as interim CEO until a permanent one is chosen. Jenkins will remain with the company as a senior advisor until November 30 to ensure a smooth transition.
After working 10 years at Six Flags, Jenkins joined Dave & Buster’s in December 2006 as CFO. In 2018, he was named CEO when Stephen M. King retired after 12 years.
“It has been my honor and privilege to be a part of this industry-leading brand for the past fifteen years and I am proud of what our extraordinary team has accomplished together,” Jenkins said in a statement. “I am excited to watch D&B’s continued success in the future, and I’m also looking forward to spending time with my wife and family who have supported me throughout my career.”
Jenkins will leave after leading the brand to a record-setting second quarter. Dave & Buster’s earned an unprecedented $378 million in the three-month period ending August 1, which was $33 million more than Q2 2019 and nearly $330 million more than Q2 2020. Same-store sales increased 3.6 percent versus 2019 levels, and the chain swung a net income of $52.8 million, well above 2019’s $32.4 million and 2020’s net loss of $58.6 million. Dave & Buster’s also grew EBITDA past the $100 million mark in Q2 for the first time in company history, achieving $114 million, or $36 million (44 percent) higher versus two years ago.
The rise was quite significant, considering sales tanked as low as 87 percent in the early goings of COVID and more than 1,300 employees were laid off. The brand even warned of a possible bankruptcy if a deal wasn’t struck with lenders. Fast forward to fall 2021, all 143 stores are open and Dave & Buster’s has welcomed back guests with a new menu, game, and service model alongside a focus on streamlining execution. The chain cut food offerings by 33 percent and pushed a fresh identity, “Inspired American Kitchen,” to the center. Since the spring roll out, COO Margo Manning said, half of the chain’s top-10 best sellers are either new or refreshed options. The brand also completed a beverage analysis and will launch an evolved lineup in Q4.
Unit development is also forthcoming. Dave & Buster’s plans to open four units in 2021 and six to eight next year. This includes further exploration of a smaller, 18,000-square-foot model. A recent freestanding store opened in Gainesville, Florida, and generated nearly $6 million in revenue during the first half of the year.
“Brian has been a driving presence for Dave & Buster’s, playing an integral role in the impressive growth that led to our IPO and that which followed,” Sheehan said in a statement. “His leadership has been instrumental to our company’s success, and he has created a strong foundation for us to build upon. Brian successfully led the Company through the pandemic, and back to record-setting financial performance, while concurrently re-establishing a strong balance sheet. With those objectives achieved, Brian and the Board felt this was a good time to initiate this transition.”
The chain’s board of directors has engaged Heidrick & Struggles to conduct a search process to find Jenkins’ permanent successor.