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Roark Sells Jimmy John’s to Its Inspire Brands


Inspire Brands, the parent company of Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings and Sonic, has entered into an agreement to acquire Jimmy John’s Sandwiches from Roark Capital Group. The Atlanta-based Roark private equity firm purchased Jimmy John’s in 2016 and has been the longstanding owner of Arby’s, which was rolled into the newly formed Inspire Brands in 2018. 

Following completion of the deal, Inspire will be the fourth-largest restaurant company in the United States with more than $14 billion in annual sales and more than 11,200 restaurants in 16 countries. 

Today’s agreement was unanimously approved by the Jimmy John’s Board of Directors, including Founder and Chairman Jimmy John Liautaud. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Inspire is a multi-brand restaurant company whose portfolio includes more than 8,300 Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Sonic Drive-In and Rusty Taco locations worldwide. 

“Jimmy John’s has found the ideal home at Inspire,” Liautaud said. “Inspire’s long-term approach, culture of innovation and commitment to helping brands grow sets it apart from the rest. I couldn’t be prouder of the company we’ve built, and I can’t wait to see what Jimmy John’s is able to accomplish under Inspire’s leadership.”

“Jimmy John’s is a great fit for the Inspire family,” said Paul Brown, co-founder and chief executive officer of Inspire Brands. “What started in 1983 as a sandwich shop in a converted garage in Charleston, Illinois, has grown into a national, differentiated brand with a passionate fan base. We are excited to welcome the Jimmy John’s brand to Inspire and look forward to working with their team and franchisees to help the company achieve its next stage of growth.”

At the close of the transaction, which is expected by the end of October, James North will serve as president of the Jimmy John’s brand, reporting to Paul Brown, and Jimmy John Liautaud will step down as Chairman and transition to an advisor to the brand. 

Franchise Times named Jimmy John’s acquisition by Roark Capital as its 2017 Dealmaker Deal of the Year. At the time, Roark Capital was attracted to the popular sandwich chain as a majority investor cashing out Weston Presidio, its original private equity partner, for a cool $2 billion.

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The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at




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