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Friendly’s CEO stepping down

Friendly’s Ice Cream chief executive Harsha V. Agadi is planning to step down tomorrow and the company’s chief marketing officer is also leaving in several weeks.

The leadership shake-up comes exactly one month after the struggling Wilbraham restaurant chain emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Agadi, who joined the company in August 2010 and invested some of his own money in the business, will remain on the board of directors.

Friendly’s chief operating officer James M. Parrish will step in as interim chief executive. Chief marketing officer Andrea McKenna, who also was hired in August 2010, is leaving at the beginning of March. A spokeswoman for Friendly’s confirmed the changes.

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The company was acquired by private equity firm Sun Capital in 2007.

Friendly’s filed for Chapter 11 last October, claiming it was a casualty of a tough economic environment, rising commodity costs, and changing customer tastes. The ice cream company closed 100 restaurants – about one-quarter of the entire chain – in the past several months.

Agadi, who was named chairman and chief executive in August 2010, has more than 25 years of food service industry experience, including five years at Atlanta-based Church’s Chicken, where he grew annual sales to more than $1 billion.

Agadi’s predecessor at Friendly’s, Ned R. Lidvall, also had a short-lived career at the ice cream maker, lasting less than two years.

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