Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores Inc.'s chairman plans to step down later this year, the latest in a series of board shake-ups partly spurred by activist shareholder Sardar Biglari.
Michael A. Woodhouse, executive chairman of the Lebanon, Tenn.-based casual dining chain, will retire just before a Nov. 15 annual shareholders meeting, the company announced today. It said James W. Bradford, who joined the board a year ago, will succeed him as non-executive chairman.
Cracker Barrel also said board member Charles E. Jones Jr. plans to step down when his term expires in November.
He and Woodhouse will join two other board members -- B.F. "Jack" Lowery and Robert V. Dale - in leaving the company in November.
All four were targeted for ouster by activist shareholder Sardar Biglari, who owns a 17 percent stake in the company. His firm, Biglari Holdings Inc., owns the Steak 'n Shake and Western Sizzlin restaurant chains.
In an April letter to shareholders, Biglari said Woodhouse "has been most responsible for putting the company in a deplorable condition of distended bloat." Biglari also contended that Dale and Lowery had passed Cracker Barrel's board retirement age of 75, and that Jones and Woodhouse had "displayed lackluster performances far too long."
Biglari, of San Antonio, Texas, has long pressed for board changes. He was denied a seat on Cracker Barrel's board at its shareholder meeting in December.
The latest announcement comes just two months after Cracker Barrel expanded its board by two seats, to 13 members, also partly in response to Biglari's pressure.