New Quiznos Owners See Strong Brand Foundation
High Bluff Capital Partners, the new owners of “substantially all of Quiznos’ assets,” have quite a job ahead. The private equity firm out of San Diego acquired the brand for an undisclosed sum in hopes of returning Quiznos to a growth path.
The battered sub chain known for toasted subs and bad business now sits at 800 locations, down precipitously from the 5,000 locations in 2007, shedding 1,000 stores before and another 2,000 stores during the Great Recession. There were a lot of reasons, but chief among them: The restaurants didn’t make money. An expensive captive supply chain, bad management, poor location discipline and slow reactions all contributed, too.
But High Bluff has faith in the new guard that took over two years ago. Led by CEO Susan Lintonsmith and former CMO for the brand, management has tried to push the brand forward. New equipment, lower franchise fees to push profitability, a store redesign and a technology push are all helping revitalize the brand. Lintonsmith has also been highlighting the premium food in recent marketing and really emphasizing the “Toasty” loyalty program that launched in 2016.
High Bluff bought into her playbook and will keep much of the management team and retain the Denver headquarters.
“I’m proud of the progress we’ve made in the past few years,” said Lintonsmith. “I believe this is the infusion we need to take the brand to the next level.”
Amy Forrestal, an advisor on the deal from Brookwood Associates, said High Bluff believes the recognizable brand is poised for better things.
“I think they believe that Quiznos has a lot of brand recognition,” said Forrestal. “It’s had trouble, but they believe in the power of the brand.”
While the company has slimmed dramatically, mediocre operators and mediocre locations are out of the system, and the new owners have a chance to rebuild with those that remain.
“The folks that are franchisees are the right franchisees, and they have to make sure they make money and they can grow money,” said Forrestal.
Gerry Lopez, the operating partner for High Bluff and the executive chairman of the company that will operate Quiznos, said that brand will be the foundation for the work ahead.
“Quiznos is an iconic brand with strong awareness and attractive upside in the sandwich segment,” said Lopez. “We have the commitment, industry knowledge and flexible capital to build on recent successes and drive future, sustainable growth.”