"Greater" Day at Bojangles as BOJA goes public
No matter how good my day is, Bojangles CEO Clifton Rutledge assures me his is just a little bit better as his Charlotte-based brand makes its stock market debut to cheering investors—the latest fast-casual brand to capture the interest and dollars of Wall Street.
"It's a blessing," Rutledge says, adding that, even though it's been a lot of work in advance, today is "a wonderful day for our entire company."
With an opening price of $19/share, BOJA spiked as high as $27.97 in its initial hour on the market, later settling just north of $25/share at press time. That gives the company an approximate market cap of $897 million.
After raising its IPO by more than 43 percent this week, the company has raised approximately $147 million on the open market.
"People want to eat good food," Rutledge said, of the red-hot fast-casual restaurant segment. "That's why you're seeing this growth pattern taking place."
He added that part of the market's enthusiasm in Bojangles' is an ode to the company's financial performance, which he said has been "in the top tier of the industry, before, during and after the recession."
Discussing where the company will go next after its big debut, he said it has a long runway to continue developing its core and adjacent markets, largely centered around the Southeast. He added that the company won't "jump out there and go to St. Louis or Chicago before we build out our [existing] markets."
While he avoided specifics on the company's to-do list with its new capital, Rutledge said the company will remain conservative and pay down its (approximately $228 million) debt as it pulls the trigger further expansion plans.
For leaders at other franchised brands eyeing their own IPO, Rutledge says the key is to believe in yourself and your brand for the confidence to make it through the long road of going public.
"It's not hard to talk about something that you're passionate about," he said. "For your teams, have people that are smarter than you working for you—and believe in what you do and go forward with it."