Jollibee Takes Sole Ownership of Smashburger
With the full acquisition by Jollibee, Smashburger CEO Tom Ryan is also adding the role of chief product development advisor for JFC to his plate.
Less than a year after it took a $100 million stake in Smashburger to increase its ownership from 45 percent to 85 percent, Jollibee Foods Corporation acquired the remaining 15 percent of the burger chain from Black Shamrock Partners for $10 million.
With full ownership of the brand, Smashburger’s 351 stores join Philippines-based restaurant giant Jollibee, which itself has more than 4,300 units across a dozen brands in the Philippines, China, Vietnam and elsewhere in Asia. Smashburger accounts for 7 percent of Jollibee's systemwide sales, which were $3.4 billion last year.
Along with Jollibee’s 100 percent ownership, the company and Denver, Colorado-based Smashburger also announced today two senior management changes that include a new title for Black Shamrock Partners co-founder and Smashburger CEO Tom Ryan.
With a Ph.D. in flavor and fragrance chemistry from Michigan State University and the inventions of the McGriddle and Stuffed Crust Pizza on his resume, Ryan will take on the additional title of chief product development advisor for the entire Jollibee Foods Group. In this role, he’ll focus on taste and quality improvements across JFC’s brands and work on “enhancing JFC brands' relevance across global markets.”
It’s a fitting role for Ryan, who in a Franchise Times cover story earlier this year detailed the intricacies of creating Smashburger’s signature smashed patties and noted the kitchen is his natural habitat.
“I never in my entire life aspired to be a CEO, I wanted to be the creative guy. I wanted to be playing with food and marketing and designing concepts,” Ryan told Franchise Times. “I practiced that craft and refined it better than most, maybe better than almost all in my career, and then here comes this thing at age 60 to say maybe you should go do this—I will tell you in hindsight it’s become a very refreshing experience for me.”
Ryan, who took over as CEO in December 2016 following the exit of Mike Nolan, will remain in that role, while Jose “Pepot” Miñana becomes president of Smashburger. Miñana, who’s held numerous senior management positions over his multi-decade tenure with JFC, was most recently president of JFC North America and will oversee the daily operations of Smashburger.
Expect to see some major growth from Smashburger in 2019, as Jollibee plans to infuse an additional $80 million into the brand.