Cracker Barrel Old Country officials said Tuesday they regret any misunderstanding they may have caused by referring to board member and chairman-in-waiting Jim Bradford as the former CEO of a company listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
Bradford, who joined Cracker Barrel's board in the summer of 2011, was CEO of glass manufacturer AFG Industries from 1992 to 1999. In various public appearances and in annual shareholders' meeting documents, Cracker Barrel and CEO Sandy Cochran have said that AFG was public with Bradford at the helm. But the company had been taken private in 1988, when Bradford was its general counsel. The discrepancy was pointed out Monday by Sardar Biglari, the CEO of Steak 'n Shake and Cracker Barrel's largest shareholder.
In a statement, Cracker Barrel acknowledged that its and Cochran's statements were inaccurate but said Bradford did not represent to the board that AFG had been public under his leadership. His experience in business and academia, they said, "is beyond reproach."
"The accusations and innuendo in Mr. Biglari’s letter represent a continuation of his contentious rhetoric," said Cracker Barrel CEO Sandy Cochran. "We urge shareholders not to be distracted by Mr. Biglari’s proxy fight and instead focus on the Company’s business and strong operating results."
Shares of Cracker Barrel (Ticker: CBRL) were down slightly in Tuesday afternoon trading. Year to date, they have risen about 30 percent.