Darden CEO and Chairman Clarence Otis steps down

Clarence Otis
Jin Lee | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Darden Restaurants says CEO and Chairman Clarence Otis is stepping down as the company fights to fix its flagship Olive Garden chain following the sale of Red Lobster.

The company, based in Orlando, Florida, also says it's changing its corporate policies to split the chairman and CEO roles.

Executive shakeup at Darden
Executive shakeup at Darden

Darden said Monday that it appointed its current lead independent director, Charles Ledsinger, Jr., as independent non-executive chairman, effective immediately. Otis will serve as CEO until a successor is named, or Dec. 31, whichever comes first.

Darden Restaurants had been under fire for failing to turn around declining sales at Olive Garden and Red Lobster. Earlier on Monday, it said its contested sale of Red Lobster was finalized.

Read MoreDarden sells Red Lobster for $2.1 billion

Otis became CEO in late 2004, adding the chairman role a year later.

—By The Associated Press