At FT Dealmakers Time, Notable M&A Trends Emerge
Last year's coverage of the Franchise Times Dealmakers, published in April, included Heidi Ganahl, CEO of Camp Bow Wow.
It’s Dealmakers time at Franchise Times, when we evaluate the mergers and acquisitions in franchising nominated last quarter by all sorts of players for our annual project. Our task this week is to narrow a record-breaking number of entries to a manageable number of finalists to present to our judges in a couple of weeks. They’ll determine the winners, which I’ll tell you about in February, but for now some notable trends emerge.
- A number of sophisticated franchisees are buying entire restaurant companies, franchised and non-franchised, in order to diversify their holdings. One example is Brad Williams, a large Freddy’s franchisee, who joined the CEO of Native Grill & Wings and other investors to buy that brand from its founding family.
- A not-for-profit hospital system, Bon Secours Health System, becomes a franchisee of the for-profit American Health Care, an urgent care franchise. In health care, this is a first-of-its-kind relationship that is likely to be widely copied.
- Driven Brands first attracted Roark Capital, the private equity firm, as an investor last year, then used that backing to embark on a major acquisition binge of its own, one of the many examples that deals are no longer one-and-done.
- Smoothie King’s CEO Wan Kim went full circle last year. He’s the South Korean man who built more than 105 Smoothie Kings in his home country, then bought the entire brand from its founders, moved his family to New Orleans and became CEO. Last fall he convinced the Shinsegae Group, a food distributor, retailer and manufacturer back home, to buy the South Korean operation and then expand into Vietnam. Although Kim says it was a hard decision, letting go allows him to concentrate on growing the brand.
That’s all for now, but watch for more to come. We’ll honor all winners at our FT Finance & Growth Conference in Vegas, March 14-16, and cover them in our April issue.