Thursday, September 8, 2016

Atlanta Firm Has Purchased a Big Bite of Jimmy John's

Jimmy John's joins growing restaurant roster  
An affiliate of Atlanta-based private equity firm Roark Capital Group has signed a definitive agreement to acquire a majority interest in national sandwich chain Jimmy John's.    

Jimmy John's, founded in 1983 by Jimmy John Liautaud, will reportedly remain headquartered in its birth city of Champaign, Illinois.  Liautaud, a college dropout who started the fist Jimmy John's with a $25,000 loan from his father, will continue to help shape the company's strategic direction as Chairman of the Board of Directors and will remain the single largest individual shareholder.  James North will continue to lead the day-to-day operations of the business as President and CEO.

Ranked No. 1 on Entrepreneur Magazine's 2016 annual Franchise 500® list, Jimmy John's has more than 2,500 locations and $2 billion in system-wide sales with a new-unit pipeline of more than 1,100 locations to be opened over the next several years.   

As part of the transaction, previous partners Weston Presidio will exit after holding a reported 33% stake in Jimmy John's for the past 10 years.  The San Francisco-based private equity firm's previous investments have included JetBlue Airways and Wild Oats Markets.     

Liautaud was in talks last year to take the company public but unexpectedly shelved those plans in October.  “I made the whole Thanksgiving dinner and right before I was going to serve it, I threw it out,” Liautaud said of the shelved IPO plan.   There are at least some in the restaurant industry who credit the shelved IPO with flak the restaurant and its founder received following the release of photos last summer that showed Liautaud posing with dead elephants, a rhinoceros, and a leopard.  Liautaud, who never denied the photos were of him, was subsequently ridiculed in the media with many reportedly boycotting the chain.     

Liautaud, who was quoted to have said “I don’t think my wheelhouse is comfortable in Wall Street,” at the time of the shelved IPO, may been more welcoming of the Roark deal following the hunting photos flak.  While terms of the transaction were not disclosed, Roark's presumably strong offer and expertise in growing (Moe's Southwest Grill, McAlister's Deli) and mature (Arby's, Hardee's) brands, was surely appealing.     

As I reported earlier this week, a local Jimmy John's franchise group, "Jimmy John’s of Atlanta, LLC," recently announced plans to open a new location in Emory Village later this fall.  The Emory Village location, the group's 14th, will bring the chain to about 70 locations in Georgia.     

Upon completion of the  Jimmy John's transaction, Roark will have invested in 56 franchise/multi-unit brands which generate annual system revenues of approximately $23 billion through 25,000 locations that operate in 50 states and 75 countries.   

Roark focuses on franchised and multi-unit business models in the retail, restaurant, consumer and business services sectors.  Roark's current holdings include stakes in  Arby's, Atkins Nutritionals, Batteries Plus Bulbs, CKE Restaurants (the owner of Carl Jr.'s and Hardee's), Corner Bakery, Driven Brands (the owner of Maaco, Meineke, CARSTAR, 1-800 Radiator and Take 5 Oil Change), Drybar, FOCUS Brands (the owner of Auntie Anne's Pretzels, Carvel Ice Cream, Cinnabon, McAlister's Deli, Moe's Southwest Grill, and Schlotzsky's), Il Fornaio, Massage Envy, Miller's Ale House, Naf Naf Grill, Orangetheory Fitness, Pet Retail Brands (the owner of Pet Supermarket and Pet Valu), Primrose Schools, Self Esteem Brands (the owner of Anytime Fitness and Waxing the City) and Wingstop. 


Anonymous said...

I've been to Jimmy John's once and wasn't impressed with the food quality and portion size. What am I missing? What do you like about Jimmy John's?

Anonymous said...

Seems like a great idea to drop your toddler at Primrose, have a quickie workout at Anytime, grab a Massage Envy while your oil is changed at Take 5, drop by Pet Value for a flea collar for Fido, pick up Junior, lunch at Moe's (discount burritos Mondays), and treat yourself to Carvel or Cinnabon (or both) on the way home. Next week also squeeze in Waxing The City (is that cars or skin?)

Anonymous said...

ate at JJ in Decatur recently. They are fast, although they didn't put the vinegar and oil on it as requested. Just really ordinary. I too don't get the allure. It's ok, just doesn't excite me too much.


Anonymous said...

Jimmy John's being successful, yet ordinary, sandwich option for 33 years means they are doing something right. Good basic sandwiches. Much rather eat at JJ than Subway.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, no. I wouldn't eat at this animal murderer places ever.

Anonymous said...

"Yeah, no. I wouldn't eat at this animal murderer places ever."

Comments like that are why people DO eat there. PETA and animals rights activists are currently their own worst enemies and when targeting someone via their outrage typically drive UP sales. In fact your single comment likely brought 10 new customers to a metro ATL Jimmy John's sandwich shop.

Unknown said...

I went in once and was like, huh? My sandwich was done in like 30 seconds. I swear he reached down and grabbed a premade one. Never went back. Plus I wont support an insecure man who needs to kill majestic animals to feel like hes a real man.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 4:52, I seriously doubt that my comment encouraged anyone
to go there. I had a client once that was a hunter. His den in his
multi million dollar home made me sick. I refused to deal with him
after seeing all of the dead animal heads on the wall. So, gave up
a hundred thousand dollar account just because he was a dick.

Anonymous said...

"So, gave up a hundred thousand dollar account just because he was a dick."

BS ... Amazing that people can use their anonymity to lie on the internet.
The silent majority is sick to death of your hateful vitriol. Trolls like you search the internet simply to post on stories like this to inflate your faux rage. YOUR comments most certainly do have the opposite effect. In fact I will go to JJ today and buy 5 sandwiches to give away in your honor!

Anonymous said...

PeTA believes playing Pokemon is animal cruelty. The Pokemon GO craze is killing majestic animals. Bambi is a documentary. Plants feel pain too. Ingrid's Will will be done.

Anonymous said...

I agree. I don't like JJ and don't understand why they are so popular but I'm going to JJ for lunch today to pee pee on PeTA and tip the tip jar!

Coolio said...

I wish my dad gave me $25k to start a business.

Looks like the moral of the story is to drop out of college and/or have wealthy parents. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerburg both dropped out and seem to be doing well.

And to the people to speak out on animal murderers... you do realize that we kill fish, chicken, cows and pigs to eat them as well right? I will gladly watch a pig get slaughtered in order to have some fresh applewood bacon! What's the point of being at the top of the food chain if you can't exercise your dominion over all other earthly wildlife?

Anonymous said...

For those of you wondering about the success of JJ's, i would say the fact they deliver is a big reason.

I don't know the last time i stepped foot into a store but i have them deliver a sandwich once or twice at work every couple of weeks.

Georgia Water Tanks said...

^^^. Finally an intelligent comment. I'll be JJ does well around office parks for this reason.