Thai Union Group has made a US$575m “strategic investment” in Red Lobster, a US-based seafood restaurant operator, as the seafood processing giant works to build its “direct-to-consumer” channel. 

The deal gives Thai Union a 25% stake in Red Lobster. US-based private-equity firm Golden Gate Capital will remain the majority owner of Red Lobster and retain operational control of the group. 

“Red Lobster is an iconic brand, with a leading market position in seafood casual dining and a world-class management team, and has delivered strong performance since Golden Gate acquired the company in 2014,” Thai Union CEO Thiraphong Chansiri said.

“This investment marks a strategic step to build Thai Union’s direct-to-consumer channel, and will enable us to benefit from the extensive restaurant industry expertise of both the Red Lobster management team and Golden Gate. We have worked closely with Red Lobster for over two decades and are highly supportive of the strategy Red Lobster has implemented under Golden Gate’s ownership.”

Thai Union’s seafood range includes lobster, shrimp, sardines, mackerel, tuna, salmon and crab. The group owns global seafood brands such as Chicken of the Sea, King Oscar, John West and Petit Navire. 

“Thai Union is one of the largest and best-managed global seafood companies, and has been a trusted strategic supplier to Red Lobster for over 20 years,” said Kim Lopdrup, CEO of Red Lobster. “This close partnership will help accelerate Red Lobster’s strategy of being the best seafood specialist in every trade area we serve, bringing guests sea-to-table quality seafood and a best-in-class dining experience at affordable prices.”

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The companies did not detail the extent to which Thai Union will support Red Lobster’s operations. However, Golden Gate Capital managing director Josh Cohen said he expected Red Lobster to use Thai Union’s “world-class supply chain”, “global presence” and “expertise” to grow.