New platform company Youth Enrichment Brands, backed by Roark Capital, launched on October 19 after purchasing i9 Sports, the nation’s largest youth sports league franchisor. Youth Enrichment Brands will be led by CEO Justin Hoeveler, a lifelong athlete who has worked in the youth sports industry for more than a decade. Hoeveler is also CEO of US Sports Camps, which is also under the Youth Enrichment Brands umbrella in addition to U.S. Baseball Academy.
Florida-based i9 Sports was founded in 2002 and began franchising the next year. Now up to more than 170 franchise locations in 34 states, i9 Sports franchisees operate youth sports leagues, camps and clinics for multiple sports and serves kids ranging in age from 3 to 14. It was created to solve a problem, i9 Sports President Brian Sanders told Franchise Times in February, “and the key problem in youth sports is it had become incredibly adult-ified. We set out to replace that very high-pressure, adult-centered model with a child-centered model that puts fun first.” This deal brings private equity firm Roark’s overall reach to approximately 64,000 locations in 50 states and 89 countries.
Sun Holdings has acquired 131 Applebee’s restaurants in 14 states from RMH Franchise Holdings, the second-largest franchisee in the system. RMH was sold by private equity firm Acon Investments, which completed the sale of its equity interests on November 5. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. This marks the second Dine Brands concept to join the Sun Holdings portfolio, following the large operator’s purchase of 41 IHOP restaurants last year. Sun Holdings, led by founder Guillermo Perales, ranked No. 7 on the Franchise Times Restaurant 200 with $919.5 million in sales in 2020, while RMH ranked No. 44 on the list. Sun Holdings’ portfolio also includes Burger King, Popeyes, Arby’s, T-Mobile, McAlister’s Deli, IHOP and GNC with more than 1,000 locations across 12 states. It’s also the franchisor of Taco Bueno.
Freshii has agreed to acquire Canadian e-commerce retailer Natura Market and will pay $5.7 million for the initial 60 percent of shares, with rights to purchase the remaining 40 percent through the first quarter of 2025. Since its 2005 inception, Freshii has expanded to 384 restaurants in 14 countries, plus grown its consumer-packaged goods offerings to hundreds of retailers. Natura, an online health and wellness retailer that touts its 4.8-star Google Review rating and lack of debt, has grown to $19 million in revenue since being founded in late 2016. Founder Shakhzod Khabibov will continue as president of Natura Market, which will continue to be run as a standalone business but will benefit from access to Freshii’s shared-service infrastructure. Freshii plans to use Natura’s sales data insight to help inform trends in food and beverage product innovation.
Adding to their portfolio of home services brands, Horse Power Brands bought 20-year-old Heroes Holiday Lighting and plans to rebrand the company to Blingle, which is set to launch as a franchise opportunity on November 14. Horse Power will also expand Blingle’s outdoor lighting offerings to attract business for weddings, events, patios and more. After founding Horse Power Brands in 2019, Josh Skolnick and Zach Beutler made their first acquisition in 2019 and bought Mighty Dog Roofing when it had just two locations in the Carolinas. They grew the brand to 60 territories across the U.S., Franchise Times reported, and have a goal to grow franchise systems responsibly.
Driven Brands added Magic Tunnel Car Wash to its portfolio, marking Driven’s 100th car wash acquired since August 2020 and bringing its total to more than 300 car washes in the U.S. Magic Tunnel Car Wash operates with a subscriber model and has 16 locations in Ohio, West Virginia and Georgia. Driven Brands, which is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, is the largest automotive services company in North America and has more than 4,300 locations in 15 countries, which generates more than $4 billion in systemwide sales. Magic Tunnel Car Wash joined Driven’s umbrella which also includes Take 5 Oil Change, Meineke Car Care Centers, Maaco, 1-800-Radiator & A/C and Carstar.
Tongue twister-inspired Peter Piper Pizza, which is owned by Chuck E. Cheese’s parent CEC Entertainment, has signed an agreement to buy back 10 Arizona locations from franchisee Southwest Pizza. Corporate will acquire nine Tucson and one Phoenix-area restaurants owned by Southwest Pizza, owned by a local Tucson family who have been Peter Piper Pizza franchisees for almost 40 years. The family decided to sell all its locations earlier this year, and terms of the sale were not disclosed. Peter Piper Pizza was founded 50 years ago in Phoenix and features dining and arcade games. This deal expands Peter Piper’s number of corporate-owned U.S. restaurants to 43. There are more than 120 Peter Piper Pizzas in the U.S. and Mexico. CEC, which emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January, is also the parent of Pasqually’s Pizza and Wings.
Portfolio company Five Star Franchising officially launched on November 4 following the acquisition of franchisor brands Bath Solutions, Joe Homebuyer, Gotcha Covered and Bio-One.Five Star is backed by Princeton Equity Group. Also under the Five Star umbrella is ProNexis, a call center and lead-generation system provider for home services franchisees. Five Star’s brands include nearly 300 franchise owners and 350 territories across the U.S. and Canada.
Cousins Subs bought back six franchise locations from Jim and Leah Valentine, who were the first Cousins Subs franchisees more than 30 years ago. The restaurants are located in Brookfield, New Berlin, Pewaukee and Waukesha, Wisconsin and brings the franchisor’s corporate-owned unit count to 40. This is the company’s largest acquisition to date, according to Cousins Subs President Jason Westhoff.
Fleet Feet bought specialty running retailer Fitniche and its three locations in the Tampa, Florida area from current owner and founder Rich Wills. This will bring Fleet Feet’s footprint in Florida to 10 units. The franchisor will rebrand the stores to Fleet Feet on a rolling basis throughout the next few months. Wills, a former senior project manager at Publix Super Markets corporate headquarters, founded Fitniche in 2005 and will exit the business as a result of the deal. Erik Adams, former operating partner of two Fleet Feet locations, will manage the three locations. Fleet Feet was founded in 1976, has 190 stores in 37 states and is headquartered in Carrboro, North Carolina.
New franchisee OW Chicken Star acquired five Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen restaurants in Tennessee from Sam Smith and his family. Unbridled Capital provided sell-side advisory services to Sam Smith. This follows the news that Grammy Award-winning rapper Megan Thee Stallion will open up to five Popeyes restaurants after signing a franchise development agreement with the brand.