American casual restaurant chain Red Lobster is closing at least 48 of its locations in the US amidst financial challenges, CNN has reported.

Restaurant liquidator TAGeX Brands is arranging an online auction for Red Lobster’s inventory, including kitchen equipment and furniture.

The online auction, from 13 May to 16 May 2024, was confirmed by TAGeX Brands founder Neal Sherman.

Several Red Lobster outlets, including those in Buffalo, Orlando and Jacksonville, are listed as ‘temporarily closed’ on the company’s website – a rare event in the brand’s more-than-50-year history. Red Lobster has not commented.

The restaurant chain has been a staple in American dining since 1968. It currently operates around 650 locations and was reportedly contemplating a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing to manage its financial burdens.

The appointment of a restructuring expert as CEO could be indicative of the chain’s potential bankruptcy plans.

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Once a pioneer in making seafood accessible to middle-class consumers, Red Lobster has faced a decline in recent years, attributed to factors including corporate mismanagement.

In 2020, Thai Union, a key supplier to the company, became a significant shareholder following an undisclosed investment.

Since then, the chain has seen four different CEOs and launched an all-you-can-eat shrimp promotion that adversely affected service speeds and profitability.

Reflecting on the shrimp deal, Thai Union CEO Thiraphong Chansiri remarked in November 2023: “We need to be much more careful.”

In early 2024, Thai Union announced its intention to divest from Red Lobster, expecting to incur a loss of $530m on its investment.